May ~ coffee of the month

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May 30, 2013 by beanerbar

Finca El Puente is a special coffee and truly close to our hearts. We discovered it on our very first trip to Honduras, fell in love with it then, and have been head over heels ever since. Moises Herrera and Marysabel Caballero – the couple who run the farm – have become like family, and this year they continued the tradition of refining an already-great coffee. This harvest of Finca El Puente brings lighter purple-lavender and plum notes, black cherry, sugar cane sweetness, and toasted nut in the finish.


48_HONFormer Counter Culture Director of Coffee Peter Giuliano’s story of identifying the “purple princess” on a cupping table in the 2005 Cup of Excellence competition in Honduras is Counter Culture legend, and, beyond that, part of the direct trade relationship canon. We purchased a small amount of the farm’s coffee for the first time in 2006, through a Q Auction, and made our first visit to their farm in March of 2007 with only the most basic of e-mail correspondence preceding our arrival. They welcomed us with immeasurable warmth and good humor, which, combined with the consistently delicious (sometimes purple-flower- and purple-fruit-tinged) cup, makes Finca El Puente a perennial favorite.

Marysabel Caballero’s maternal grandfather, Felipe García, established the family’s coffee farms and passed them down to his daughter, Sandra, who shares ownership with her husband, Fabio, and their children, Marysabel and Fabio Junior. The family has divided their land into a number of parcels, assigning specific areas to individual family members who manage those areas independently.
Finca El Puente, for example, is one of Marysabel’s areas, which she owns and manages with her husband Moisés Herrera, along with land that he brought to the marriage. Originally from Guatemala, Moisés came to Honduras in the 1980s for work with a Guatemalan coffee company, but he ended up buying some land of his own outside of Marcala and becoming a coffee grower even before he met Marysabel.
Together, they dedicated themselves to producing the highest-quality coffee they could, and when they heard about the first coffee quality contests in Honduras, they naturally entered the coffee they had grown together. Right away, their coffee started to win prizes in these contests, and coffee from Finca El Puente began a winning streak that is unparalleled in coffee history; this coffee placed at the top of every coffee contest ever entered. In 2005, at the Honduras Cup of Excellence ompetition, Finca El Puente’s berry-lavender aroma and silky body famously earned it the nickname “The Purple Princess” when Peter first tasted it on the cupping table. The name, of course, stuck.

Most people meet Marysabel first because she is outgoing, arrestingly lovely, and quick to laugh – she is the embodiment of charm – but the rest of her family are just as warm. Fabio Senior is a witty adventurer who would never turn down a risk-laden trip or endeavor, especially if it holds the promise of good food. Moisés, who usually plays the straight man to Marysabel and Fabio’s energy and hilarity, is one of the savviest coffee producers we have ever met.
El Puente translates to “the bridge” in Spanish and is named so for a section of the farm that is close to a bridge that goes over a natural spring.
Region: Marcala, Honduras
Elevation: 1,400 – 1,653 meters

Marcala is in the southern Honduran region of La Paz, which is approximately an hour drive from the border with El Salvador. This high-elevation town is dry and dusty, with more pine trees than one might expect in a tropical climate, but the Caballero-Herrera’s farms are blessed with plentiful natural springs, and they have chosen to conserve a good deal of their land in order to protect this resource.
Variety: Catuai
Espresso Specs:
Coffee dose weight: 19g
Output weight: 32-33g (about 1.5 oz by volume w/crema; brew ratio: 1:1.7)
Extraction time: 20-23 seconds
For use with milk: works best when used with larger milk drinks, it can be a little too tart in small milk-based drinks.
Harvest: December 2012 -March 2013
Process: Washed
Once depulped and mucilage is slightly removed in an eco-pulper, the coffee will go to traditional dry fermentation for about 14 hours.
Coffee is dried using all sorts of different techniques, from low temperature Mechanical drying, to patios, and raised beds. Ranging from 2-3 days to 10 days total time.
Sections of the Farm:
The first coffee we knew, loved, and purchased from the Caballero/Herrera family was named Finca El Puente (the bridge farm), and we assumed that was the name of the entire farm, which we learned later was a misunderstanding and that their entire farm was, in fact, named Dulce Nombre de Jesús. El puente referred to a portion of the farm located near, unsurprisingly, a bridge. We debated renaming the coffee, but after discussing with Marysabel and Moises that we had already sold the coffee as Finca El Puente and built a name for it, we collectively decided to continue calling it Finca El Puente even if only a portion of the total coffee we purchased came from that area of land.

This year our coffee comes from 15 separate lots: from the sections called El Puente, El Pino, La Arcadio, La Francisca, La Matilde, Finca amazonas, El Roble, and La Pantanal. We will also offer coffee exclusively from Los Cipreses as a separate offering, as it is the only part of the farm that is certified organic.

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