Rio Magdelena: Tres Santos
||San Agustin, Huila, SW Colombia
||1600 - 2000 masl
||Caturra & Castillo
||Sparkling water method
> 3000 local family producers
Dark chocolate, forest fruits and a silky body in the cup.
From Huila, in the southwest of Colombia, this lot of delicious decaf is made up of coffees from 3182 smallholders from the municipalities of San Agustin, Gigante and Garzon, in the centre and south of the Huila region. All of the contributing producers grow coffee on plots of land ranging between 1 and 5 hectares, where they also live and share work on the farms with their families.
Training is given to the producer groups on pre- and post-harvest production in order to help them improve quality and receive higher premiums for their coffees. The farmers are also collectively members of a Coffee Growers Federation, where they can access support and training around specific aspects of farm management.
During the harvest, the freshly picked coffee cherry is pulped each night and then left to dry ferment for 26-48 hours in tanks, depending on conditions. The coffee is then washed before being dried in parabolic driers for between 15 and 20 days. The weather patterns in these regions can make post-harvest care extremely difficult with fluctuating temperatures and precipitation creating a challenging environment to produce high quality coffee.
Expect red cherry, forest fruits, chocolate and caramel in the cup.
The decaffeination process
1. The green beans enter a ‘pre-treatment’ vessel where they are cleaned and moistened with water before being brought into contact with pressurised liquid carbon dioxide. When the green coffee beans absorb the water, they expand and the pores are opened resulting in the caffeine molecules becoming mobile.
2. After the water has been added, the beans are then brought into contact with the pressurised liquid carbon dioxide which combines with the water to essentially form sparkling water. The carbon dioxide circulates through the beans and acts like a magnet, drawing out the mobile caffeine molecules.
3. The sparkling water then enters an evaporator which precipitates the caffeine rich carbon dioxide out of the water. The now caffeine free water is pumped back into the vessel for a new cycle.
4. This cycle is repeated until the required residual caffeine level is reached. Once this has happened, the circulation of carbon dioxide is stopped and the green beans are discharged into a drier.
5. The decaffeinated coffee is then gently dried until it reaches its original moisture content, after which it is ready for roasting.
There are several benefits to using this process for decaffeination:
• The agent used for extracting the caffeine is entirely natural and the process can be classified as ‘organic’ due to the complete lack of chemicals used throughout. There is also no health risk by consuming coffee that has been decaffeinated in this way.
• The way the process works means the other compounds in the green bean are left untouched, meaning decaffeination has no effect on the flavour and aroma of the finished product. The carbon dioxide is very selective and doesn’t extract the carbohydrates and proteins in the green bean which contribute to flavour and smell.
• The cell structure of the green bean and the finished roasted bean is unchanged which is of great advantage when working with speciality coffees.
• The by-products are 100% natural and recyclable.