2019 is a big year for Afficionado Coffee Roasters and Brazil. Peter Turso and I just returned from a week-long visit to the Carmo Coffee headquarters in Carmo de Minas, and there are so many exciting developments to share.
In our commitment to true sustainability, we have price fixed with our farmers in Brazil through 2025 in order to offer them consistent cash flow. As a result of our strong relationship, Afficionado will become Vera Cruz’s exclusive roaster in the United States. Additionally, Afficionado and Alta Vista have agreed to carve out a parcel of land on their farm which will be exclusive to us. We are also implementing several innovative processing techniques that will revolutionize the coffee experience. Moreover, as part of our dedication to their community and as an avid swimmer, I am ecstatic about Afficionado’s social commitment to the Cria Carmo Youth Swim Team.
The relationship with Carmo started last harvest with Peter’s initial trip to meet with two partnered farms of Carmo Coffee, Vera Cruz and Alta Vista. Upon visiting this June, a year later, Peter’s reaction was, “how were they able to do so much in so little time?” They had implemented so many new processes since his first visit.
Among many of the new developments, we saw the results of our recent research trip to Argentina. I was invited to join Agricafe Bolivia and the founder of Carmo, Luiz Paulo, on a research trip to visit the fine wineries of Mendoza, Argentina in February of 2019.
In Argentina, we researched the correlation between wine and coffee fermentation in both controlled and uncontrolled environments. We also learned about the use of different strains of yeast and how certain sugars interact with different yeast to produce certain flavor profiles and speed up or slow down the processing time. Last but certainly not least, the winery tour detailed the benefits of anaerobic versus aerobic fermentation and its impact on character.
Through our partnership with Carmo and Agricafe, we brought our research home and immediately put it to work, and so did Luiz. Within just one month of returning from our trip to Argentina, Luiz had already purchased and implemented his first glycol-jacketed fermentation tank on our farms in Carmo. Last week, Luiz demonstrated what he had learned in Argentina.
Luiz is fermenting coffee cherry for an extended time under a temperature-controlled, oxygen-void environment in order to boost bright tropical fruit flavors in the final cup. He explained that his coffee had been double fermented and went through a malolactic-style fermentation which triggered two very different flavor profiles. For example, ripe banana and kiwi aromas were fragrant in one lot and white chocolate, graham cracker, and sugar cookie in another.
“My chef’s mind started racing with all the possibilities and flavor combinations,” Peter said after touring the lots. “I realized I was witnessing this proof of concept, and that I was seeing the beginning of something that will revolutionize the coffee experience in years to come.”
Being down there this past week was amazing to see all cylinders firing. The season’s first rounds of coffee are just starting to reach the cupping table, and we are very confident in this year’s outcome. In addition to our many projects with Carmo this year, we are fully sorting only the most perfect cherries by hand prior to fermentation for our washed and honeys to prevent unwanted sour characteristics from under-ripe coffee cherries that find their way into the tank. We implemented this new sorting technique after we learned that the sorting process is slightly different in Brazil in that they typically sort after fermentation in washed coffees.
Afficionado and Carmo are also implementing the following new processes which will soon come to bear on our finished product:
- Natural Drying under UV protected shade with black lights at night to kill bacteria
- Anaerobic Maceration Fermentation
- Anaerobic Maceration w/ Mucilage Must
- Double Fermentation (Washed and Honey)
- Aerobic Maceration w/ Mucilage Must
- Washed Honey Process with Mucilage Must
- Multiple Yeast Strain Fermentation
For me, starting Afficionado Coffee did not stem from an obsession with coffee as so many think. In fact, it started with a yearning to immerse myself in hospitality, culture, and agriculture. Our experience with Agricafe Bolivia, Carmo Coffees, and Alta Vista is a pinnacle for Afficionado Coffee Roasters, and for me personally.
We look forward to receiving this year’s delivery of Brazil’s Mid September, stay tuned . . .
Co-Founder and CEO