This is an absolutely banging decaf. Body and sweetness and sugar for days... We're absolutely loving it, and drinking the heck out of it. We're having a few transport issues on our staple decaf from El Carmen, and this one from our long-term partners at Falcon and Siruma is perfectly filling the gap! If you're an El Carmen lover, this will scratch that same itch, but with notes of Maple Syrup, Plum Preserve, and Cherry Cola!
This coffee comes from the municipality of Argelia which is situated in the south west of the department of Cauca. Cauca is the 4th largest producer of specialty coffee in Colombia with around 90,000 small holder farmers all producing coffee on approximately 1ha of land. Often these farmers are part of small associations who have very limited access to market as well as limited resources to find channels to sell their coffees at the premiums they could achieve. The Argelia municipality is located in an area that has been plagued by the civil unrest and illegal drug trade for many years. This is still a pertinent problem for the families living here and many of them are looking to make a living though legal channels where they can support their families and communities.
Siruma Coffee a small specialty female led exporter have launched a project in this past season that started in 2020 in Argelia for an initial 15 months period until early 2022. The funding has come from USAID to support 5 small Associations incorporating about 220 families who grow coffee for their livelihood. Siruma have been providing technical assistance of the ground with their agronomist helping provided educational sessions on pre and post harvest techniques for the families that wish to join. Baseline data was established from the producers who each annually produce approximately 17 bags of green exportable coffee. The producers are also being trained in sensory analysis of the coffees and how their own coffees taste and the impact of processing on quality. Siruma are also helping to provide commercial specialty channels for the coffees though the partnership with Falcon Coffees who are buying all the coffee sourced from this project.
The farmers from these associations all have small 1 ha farms and have mix of varieties including Typica, Tabi, Caturra, Castillo and Colombia. As well as producing coffee they also produce small amounts of food for consumption including bananas, avocado and oranges. Some of which they can sell to also generate extra income. In the harvest they will pick the ripe cherry with their family and will do this every week as the coffee ripens at varying stages even on such small plots. Once picked they then wash and float the cherry before then pulping the coffee and leaving it to ferment overnight for 12 - 18 hours. After this the wet parchment is floated and immatures removed before being dried for 8 - 14 days in parabolic tents or on covered roof patios. The coffee is then taken to the association where it is stored and the producers receive the initial payment for their coffees. The coffee is then assessed by the Siruma team and all coffees purchased that meet the physical quality specifications required.
Initially in the first phase of the project in total there have been 165 producers who have attended training and from this in total 92 of these have delivered coffees to Siruma. All of these 92 producers have received on average 9.5% more than the local market rate for their coffees.
The Sugar Cane Decaf Process:
The coffee first undergoes steaming at low pressures to remove the silver skins before then being moistened with hot water to allow the beans to swell and soften. This then prepares the coffee for the hydrolysis of caffeine, which is attached to the salts of the chlorogenic acid within the coffee.
The extractors (naturally obtained from the fermentation of sugar cane and not from chemical synthesis) are then filled with moistened coffee which is washed several times with the natural ethyl acetate solvent, to reduce the caffeine down to the correct levels. Once this process is finished the coffee then must be cleaned of the remaining ethyl acetate by using a flow of low pressured saturated steam, before moving onto the final steps. From here the coffee is sent to vacuum drying drums where the water previously used to moisten the beans is removed and the coffee dried to between 10-12%.
The coffee is then cooled quickly to ambient temperature using fans before the final step of carnauba wax being applied to polish and provide the coffee with protection against environmental conditions and to help provide stability. From here, the coffee is the packed into 35kg bags ready for export.