I was blown away by the Ethiopian coffee Sunergos Coffee from Louisville, KY sent me in their latest care package, so today I’m switching gears and checking out this honey process coffee from Honduras. I don’t get my hands on a lot of Honduran coffee and I think this is the first honey process I’ve had from there, so let’s check it out!
SUNERGOS COFFEE HONDURAS FINCA LAS FLORES
This morning’s coffee was grown by Gerardo Penalba, who has been growing coffee organically for over 15 years on his farm, Finca Las Flores. Gerardo’s farm is located near the town of Marcala, in the “state” of La Paz in Honduras. Marcala is ground zero for coffee growing in Honduras. Gerardo started very small, originally working just half a hectare, but through reinvestment of his profits he has grown the farm to 1.5 hectares over the years.
This particular lot is a honey process coffee. In short, “honey” coffees are picked and sorted and then run through a pulper to break the skins of the cherries and remove some of the sticky pulp/mucilage from the seed inside the cherry, what we call a coffee “bean.” This mucilage is sometimes referred to as “honey.” If this coffee was being washed, it would go into fermentation tanks to allow microbes to eat the rest of the mucilage and remove it completely from the bean, but honey coffees are instead laid out on raised beds to dry with the “honey” intact. This is supposed to give these coffees the clean flavors of a washed coffee along with more fruitiness and body of a natural (a coffee that is dried with the entire cherry still intact around it). I typically think honey coffees taste mostly like washed coffees. This selection’s variety (think the different kind of apples you see at the grocery store… they’re all apples, but they look different and have different characteristics) is Catuai grown around 1400 meters above sea level and it gets a light (City) roast level, meaning the coffee is dropped to start cooling shortly after first crack.
Sunergos give us tasting suggestions of “apple, melon and rhubarb pie” for this coffee. I used my standard 1:16 pourover ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino with Kalita 185 filters. Including a 30 second bloom, this coffee brewed in a total of 2:50 for me, which is a little fast, but the flavors were good and I didn’t see any reason to mess with a good thing!
This coffee has a lot of green apple tones, to me. For my palate, “apple” comes out in two ways. First, there is the acidity of apples, which comes from malic acid that’s found in the fruit. Malic acid can also be found in some coffees, so a bit of the flavor that comes with the malic acid components and the overall memory it triggers in the brain reminds the drinker of apples. Cool, huh? A green apple, like a Granny Smith, tends to have more malic acid and more brightness/acidity than, say, a really sweet Honeycrisp. Malic acid tends to be crisp and clean and adds brightness without as much aggressiveness as citric acid, for me. Right along with this I often get apple-like sweetness from coffees, too. I’ll get a similar flavors from some coffees as I do from drinking apple juice. This one has quite a bit of both, for me.
Right up front in the sip I find a lot of clean apple-like sweetness and then about halfway into the sip the acidity kicks in, giving nice brightness to the cup. There is a lot of sweetness to this cup and it’s carried by a medium body that sort of spreads evenly over my entire palate when I sip. The finish is a bit dry and there’s a clean, sweet, melon-like (think honeydew) aftertaste to this coffee.
I really enjoyed drinking this coffee. The apple notes I was finding are delicious and refreshing and it’s bright and even a little tart, to me, without being “sour” or off-putting in another way. It’s fairly balanced but I would say it does lend toward the “bright” end of the spectrum, but in a less aggressive way than, say, a bright Kenyan coffee with more citrus/grapefruit notes does. This is another fantastically roasted coffee from the Sunergos gang and Gerardo should be very proud of the coffees his Finca Las Flores is producing because this one is killer!