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Subscription Spotlight No. 2: Nelson Chaves

In November, we launched our first subscription spotlight highlighting a pair of experimental lots from our friend, Alma Pineda. Today we’re excited to share the newest entry in our ongoing series of previews for Single Origin and Roaster’s Choice Subscribers, Colombia Nelson Chaves.

(Coffee Producer and fellow Bears fan, Nelson Chaves)

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Nelson Chaves is a producer we’ve developed a rapport with over several years of collaboration. Speaking with our co-owner and green buyer, Xavier described Nelson as a “quiet and humble spirit,” who at least initially was cautious of an anonymous, American roaster (like Xaiver). Now, four years later and with the precedent set, X ruminates about the gained trust and comfort the two shared on his most recent visit to Colombia. “Revisiting Nelson and shaking his hand [most recently], I felt more firmness in his embrace, one that reminds me of any time I circle back with a friend from long ago; a connection I quite cherish with the relationships made across my years of travel.”

(View from Nelson's La Esperanza)

This most recent trip came with more than just mutual “confidence and excitement.” Xavier noted the development of Nelson’s craft since that first, skeptical meeting. “A few minor, but important changes were made since we last saw each other. One of these is a new de-pulper [for processing] which was an investment made in part by Metric and Azahar and the addition of building a parabolic dryer with African-Style raised beds.” These advancements in Nelson’s process bring a whole new nuance to his coffee. This year, his lot of Caturra and Castillo varietals pop mirroring almost Kenya-like juiciness and radiating lush notes of raspberry tea, rosehips, and orange zest.

Beyond amazing coffee, this most recent origin trip also offered an opportunity for us to connect with Bernardo, Nelson’s father. Until this year, “[Bernado] was like the Wizard of Oz- I knew he existed but never saw him or knew anything about him other than this name.” The mythic Bernardo operates a coffee estate, Palo Seco, adjacent to Nelson’s. Like his son, Bernardo produces some fantastic coffees; however, Bernardo’s are often seldom available. Without going too far into spoilers, we’ll simply tease, that while you’re sipping your Nelson Chaves, you should start to get hyped for even more radiant coffees coming soon from these hillsides and their shared, family craft.

(Nelson and Bernardo, son and father)

Today, we’re excited to start sharing Nelson’s newest crop with you! It encompasses so much of what we love about working in coffee. It’s a product of our humans mending relationships with other passionate humans to yield beautiful coffee through an evolving, collaborative process and trust that’s imperative to healthy direct trading. Now, if you’re enticed to grab Nelson Chaves as soon as possible, stop by our #metricwestfulton cafe, where it’s currently featured on drip AND single origin espresso.

Not in the neighborhood? Check out our Single Origin & Roaster’s Choice Subscriptions to see if there’s an option for you! If you’re taking the patient route, expect to see the fruits of Nelson's work available next week!

Subscription Spotlight: Pineda Pack

This blog is the first entry in what will be an ongoing series highlighting a unique group of special-release coffees. Before making their way to other avenues, these especially radiant and limited coffees will be available to our coffee subscription humans; this new perk allows us to offer a special thank you to all our immensely important subscribers!

Introduction aside, let’s get to what’s important, the coffee and the humans behind it.

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Over the last several years, we’ve been lucky to develop a relationship with Alma Pineda. The matriarch of a talented coffee family (her husband Evin Moreno also a prolific producer), Alma runs her own, small farm in Honduras’ Santa Barbara department.* This year in particular though, Alma and her colleagues have decided to push the boundaries of her Paraneima coffees.

In the past, Alma has focused her resources into producing delicious washed coffees. Washed in this context refers to the coffee’s processing, i.e., the process in which the coffee seed undergoes from coffee cherry to bean. To wash process coffee is to rid the coffee seed of any residual mucilage entirely, i.e., the fruit sediment remaining from the coffee cherry. Asking what if..., Alma decided to venture down other routes opposed to simply continuing to fully wash all her coffee.

To walk us down the two innovative routes Alma took, we had Xavier (co-owner and green buyer) write up his first-hand account of Alma’s work:

Experimental, aka Weirdo Fermento--

The Weirdo Fermento's impetus sprawled out from a conversation between Evin Moreno, Alma’s husband, and Benjamin Paz. Their question: What happens if you bag up a cargo of cherries and dunk it into cold water? Further, what happens after milling them? Paranima’s profile verges on the bright and usually yield citrus/lime notes when washed. Understanding this trend allowed Alma to imagine where they could take her coffee with experimentation. After 2 days floating in water, the coffee was pulped and left in its own mucilage for up to 72 hours. This experimental semi-washing developed an aroma reminiscent of rose water and pineapple. The final result, a really clean and complex cup that exhibits a cornucopia of fruity depth.”

Honey--

“No, Alma Honey is not the follow up to Pablo Honey (though this coffee certainly is a jam). Much like Weirdo, Alma Honey was born out of a desire to push the boundaries of this lot-- to see what other flavors they could muster from this Melado, Honey process. The result, amplified sweetness, which would usually be expected from a natural process, remaining balanced with creaminess and floral notes. This year, Alma and Evin produced only about a bag’s worth of raw coffee. But with how well this coffee is cupping, we’re eager to see them produce more honey processed lots in the future.”

*Santa Barbara is an area near and dear to as its the home to other partner/friends of ours, such as Benjamin Paz and Denis Enamorado.

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Due to both coffees having an experimental nature for Alma, as X mentioned, she only produced a tiny yield. We’re proud to have secured one bag of each (only approx 150 lbs), and we’re now excited to share them with you.

Whether you sign-up for a subscription or risk waiting for them to hit our website next week, make sure you give yourself the gift of tasting these special-release micro-lots!

Part of a Process, Chapter I: Coffee Cherry Anatomy

 

Here’s a fun fact: coffee starts out as a cherry! 

If you already knew that, this post might not have a lot of new information for you. If your mind is warped over that zinger of a fact, buckle up! We’re talking about the very basics of what coffee is. This is an introductory, brief, yet accurate article about the coffee cherry. Hopefully this basic knowledge can serve as a starting point for new coffee nerds, or will prove to be a little light information to put in your pocket for some oddly specific trivia night.

Let’s start with the fact that coffee begins life as a cherry. They grow on shrubs in groups right off the stem of the branch, are round or elliptoid, and are typically a kelly green at first, soften to a yellow-orange hue as they mature, and deepen to a bright red when ripe. The coffee shrubs and cherries are different depending on the varietal of the plant itself, and harvest seasons vary based on the hemisphere, country and micro-climate of each coffee farm. Things like precipitation, temperature, qualities of the soil, and altitude are all extremely important factors when it comes to how that cherry ripens and what flavors are present when all is said in done.

So now that we have the cherry, when does the coffee bean make an appearance? The cherry itself has several layers, the center of which are two coffee beans. These two beans mirror each other, like a sphere that has been cut down the middle. Moving from the inside out, it goes as follows: bean, silverskin, parchment, pectin layer, pulp, and the outside layer of the cherry.

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

The cherry undergoes an intense process of soaking, de-pulping, fermenting, many other micro-steps. It is then dried, hulled, and sorted until we are left with a flaxen, hint-of-green bean that is not a far cry from what our finished product.

From this point, producers export bags of what is known as “green coffee,” roasters load it by the scoop into their respective roasting mechanisms (Metric uses a vintage cast iron Probat roaster from the 1960s), and 9-15 minutes later a chocolaty brown coffee bean emerges. 

We grind it, steep it in hot water, and enjoy a nice simple cup of coffee. 

At each step, there is opportunity for mistakes to occur, for something to compromise the quality of the final product. These are not simple processes, in case that hasn’t been made clear. In abbreviating these steps, we must add the note that there are hundreds of people working incredibly hard to make this nice and simple cup of coffee happen. Your cup of coffee is really and truly made by humans, made possible by their substantial efforts. To honor these people, keep supporting local roasteries that support and act upon direct trade ideals. Keep asking where your commodities are coming from, and keep enjoying what is good.