This is a very special coffee indeed, a Yellow Catuai prepared by one of our most innovative producers in one of Brazil’s most prominent coffee-growing regions. Felipe Croce and his family have transitioned their farm to be ‘more than organic’ and cultivate their coffee trees without pruning or artificial inputs. Indigenous trees are planted to form a protective forest-like canopy which promotes diverse plant growth and provides shelter for animals.

Felipe is also an excellent cupper so has been able to hone this coffee to perfection with innovative changes made after harvesting, in pursuit of this amazing microlot.

How to serve

As an espresso:  gives red berries, walnut and brazil nut, underpinned by dark chocolate. Pleasant dry aftertaste of quinine-like grapefruit acidity.

With milk: this is basically a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar in a cup. Chocolate chip, nuts, raisins and dates.

Reminds us of

  • Frank Muir’s classic television ad for Cadbury’s from the 1970s – beware, this earworm will be with you all day
  • In the finest tea-time tradition, this coffee and walnut cake recipe is a classic
  • New interpretations of familiar confectionary favourites – Paul A. Young, master chocolatier’s stylish Pecan Whip

Discover the beans

Fazenda Ambiential Fortaleza Special Reserve, natural, lot 52, Brazil

Sugarcane with clean crisp sweet pink grapefruit acidity. Creamy body with red apple, and a walnut finish.

Category – Exclusive microlot

Varietal – Yellow Catuai

Process – natural, Microlot preparation
Photo from Bottled Bohemia‘s Flickr stream under a Creative Commons Licence

When the Calderon Sol family bought this farm in Canton Alvarez, El Salvador, the beautiful views of Santa Tecla volcano seen from the pinnacle of their land inspired them to change the farm’s name to Bello Horizonte, or Beautiful Horizon. They can also see the El Chingo volcano in Guatemala.  Nearly 10% of the farm is maintained as a forest reserve in this remote region, which requires a good 4WD because of the rugged terrain which is incredibly steep at this high elevation.

How to serve

As an espresso:  Notes of dried plums, dates, apricots and cocoa powder, medium body and drying sensation at the end.

With milk: 5-7oz, flavours of Golden Syrup, honeycomb and panna cotta.

Makes us want

Discover the beans

Bello Horizonte washed bourbon, El Salvador

Plummy, nectarine and sweet white stone fruit. Complex grape and apple acidity, fresh sweet figs on cooling

Varietal – bourbon

Process – washed

We’re very pleased to introduce something new to you, a very special single origin decaffeinated coffee, Decaf Liberacion.  It is a melange from smallholder cooperatives, Todos Santos and La Libertad, in the Northern Guatemala Highlands. This region is famous for producing some of the finest coffees in Guatemala, placing high in the Cup of Excellence. Only farmers growing at altitudes above 1500mASL are invited to join the organisation and they now work with the Slow Food “Salone Del Gusto” movement in Italy. The coffee is described as a “Baluarte”, meaning it has a particular sensory characteristic, in this case a delicious taste, which clearly marks it as being from a specific region.

We think Liberacion is a fabulous coffee and chose these very special beans for a delicious decaf that preserves everything that’s great about this coffee. We use Carbon Dioxide (CO2) one of the most important compounds of our natural environment, for decaffeination. It’s in the air we breathe, it makes mineral water effervescent, and plants assimilate it to grow. It’s also a highly selective solvent for caffeine.

Natural CO2 is changed to a liquid state under sub-critical conditions of low temperature and pressure. These particularly gentle processes, along with CO2’s good caffeine selectivity ability, make for with high retention rates of the delicate flavour and aromatic compounds in the green coffee, ready for hand roasting. There’s no health risk because the coffee is only treated with natural substances and the result is a superb quality 98.5% caffeine free decaf for the most discerning palates.

This coffee tastes of dark chocolate with hints of orange, and tart crisp acidity.

How to serve

As an espresso:  gives delicious sweet orange chocolate, crème caramel, sweet burnt sugar, vanilla

With milk: think deliciously creamy praline crème caramel

 Now we want

Discover the beans

Decaf Liberacion and Liberación, Esquipulas, Guatemala

Vibrant and fresh, sweet orange citrus acidity, notes of apricot and peach

Category – single estate

Varietal – Bourbon, Pache, Catuai, Typica

Process – Fully washed, sun-dried on patio


Photo from Nutmeg Design‘s Flickr photostream under a Creative Commons Licence

Depending on where the coffee is grown, and what equipment the producers have available, post-harvest processing can be tackled in different ways. The co-operatives we work with have invested in micromills to allow them to control the processing and influence the quality.  Considerations that affect their choice of processing include the cost of the infrastructure, availability of water, and the volume of coffee they need to handle through the machinery. Pascale reports on the systems she’s seen in operation at some of the farms we work with.


A micromill can be as small and compact as this one, located at Beneficio don Sergio. This machine depulps the coffee, and removes the fleshy layer so that coffee is ready to be dried in the sun on raised  or “African” drying beds.  

The mill allows producers to process three types of coffee; red honey, yellow honey and “fully washed” (meaning that it’s what is called machine-assisted wet processing.)  Each type is determined by the amount of pulp retained on the bean. The greater the amount of  pulp that is left, dries to a leave red sticky coating on the surface of the bean – it looks like Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal. Having their own micromill means that the producers retain quality control and can craft their coffee to create what specialty roasters want. 

This is what the inside of the micromill looks like. It contains a a pulping machine which removes the skin of the fruit and a demucilage machine. After removing the skin, this depulper takes off as much of the fruity mucilage layer as required. Removing mucilage by machine is easier and more predictable than removing it by fermenting and washing.  Low-water useage machines make the process less water intensive and more environmental friendly.

Fermentation is not used to separate the bean from the remainder of the pulp (as in done in for example washed coffees in Guatemala); rather, this is done through mechanical scrubbing. After removing the mucilage the coffee is ready to be dried.

Dry Mills

This is an example of a dry mill. Once beans are dried, it is called “parchment” coffee. To process parchment into the green beans ready for roasting, all of the layers need to be removed from the beans (this process is called hulling). Occasionally, beans may be polished in a machine designed to remove that last little bit of silver skin.

Beans are then graded and sorted, first by size, then by density. Beans are sorted by hand and mechanically as they pass by on a conveyor belt or by an air jet that separates lighter (inferior) beans from heavier ones. There are also machines with an infrared eye that detect the colour of the bean, separating inferior black beans. Union buys only Specialty grade quality beans. Secondary quality coffee might go to commodity or national markets. When producers process the beans themselves, they can monitor and craft the quality and don’t have to worry about inferior beans from other  outside farms being added to their production.

Wet Mills

This is a depulper at Don Cesar de Leon’s mill in La Libertad, Guatemala. Coffee must be depulped to remove the skin and fruit surrounding the bean. Some producers use motorized depulpers where others need to depulp by hand. When the skin is removed, unwashed parchment coffee goes through a sieve to separate beans that are not depulped correctly or have another defect. These cherries are collected in the blue basket.

Coffee needs to be processed the same day that’s it’s picked. Pickers can work from around 6:00am until 4:00pm, then have to start the processing if there isn’t enough labour. If there is a lot of coffee, this means that there is work until late at night! After depulping, the beans are fermented in a fermentation tank. The fermentation process should be watched carefully but usually takes around 24 hours depending upon weather conditions.

The mucilaginous pulp is removed by a fermentation stage that breaks down the mucilage by enzymatic activity to produce beans which have a rough surface. Care needs to be taken to control the correct length of time for this stage which  is determined mostly by environmental temperature; too long leads to over-fermentation and negative attributes in the cup. After fermentation beans are washed in clean water to produce “squeaky clean” parchment coffee; rubbing a handful of beans together creates a squeaky sound because all the  slimy mucilage has been removed.  After that the coffee is washed in these troughs, called correteos.

Manual depulping

The red and yellow coffee cherry skins you see here are dried to be used as organic fertilizer for coffee plants or garden crops. The blue basket contains undried parchment that still needs to be fermented and washed to remove the honey. Manual depulpers like this, process much less volume per day than the mechanical machines that have a motor or dynamo.

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