"Eggs and bacon, please!"
That's what this spectacular Honduras Black Honey* seems to be shouting at you, as you take the first sip. Rich, meaty and full of nuances. At first, when the coffee is still piping hot, flavours are harmoniously blended as a whole. But as soon as the temperature drops, they will become clearer and clearer: a thick layer of salted caramel interrupted ever so sligthly by waves of candied orange and tangerine, a scent of freshly-baked cookies. Finally, everything comes together in a long aftertaste of sweet and fruity milk chocolate.
*if you don't know what Black Honey means (fair enough! who are we to judge?) check out the production paragraph below!
This microlot is a real rarity: a pure Red Catuaì monocultivar, a variety that - together with it's keen Yellow Catuai - is particularly suited for the Honduran territory.
Its constant and distinctive note is caramel, paired with other scents that can be more or less spicy or fruity, depending on the different terroir where this coffee is cultivated. Another peculiar trait: it's a small plant that allows for a larger number of grafts per square meter and this density contributes to creating full-bodied yet delicate coffees.
The Finca Caja de Aguas (which translates to The Water Reserve Estate) is located in San Pedro de Copan, on the slopes of mountain chain Cordillera de Celaque, Honduras. It is one of the largest and best kept rainforest in the country. A truly unique micro-plantation: about 46 hectares of land located 1.150 meters above the sea level, sorrounded by the rainforest and kept fresh by natural springs that originate higher above the sea level, hence the name Water Reserve.
The farmers at Finca Caja de Aguas use only organic fertilzers prepared by the local co-op COCAFCAL (Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada) and support a reforestation program that aims at preserving the local ecosystem, with its biodiversity and precious waterways. They are also super involved in helping the local community: their commitment ranges from funding virtual libraries for kids and teens, to shaping policies to prevent child labour, supporting the creation of football academies for young people, funding the local health system for the recruitment of medical staff and equipment. And much more.
To put it simply, the process that turns fresh coffee cherries into the dry green beans ready to be roasted is as important to coffee as pressing, fermentation and aging processes are to wine. Let me use another wine methapor: Washed are the white wines of coffees, Natural the reds.
In Washed coffees, the pulp is immediately removed from the cherry, the pit submerged and fermeted in water to get rid of any residual pulp fibers attached to it. This process takes a couple of days, after which the drying process begins.
Quite the opposite is true for Natural coffees: the just harvested cherries are let to dry whole under the sun from 10 up to 15 days. Only at the end of this process the dried-out pulp gets removed from the pits.
As you can imagine, the washed process results into a more delicate and clean coffee, whereas natural coffees tend to have a more full-bodied and rounded taste.
Between these two extremes lies the Honey method, more modern and controlled: the freshly-picked cherries are deprived only of their peel, leaving a bit of that sweet pulp atteched to the pits. After being exposed to the sun, the pulp ferments and turns into a sweet gelatin-like consistency (hence the association with honey). White or Yellow Honey refers to a honey process that leaves only a little bit of the pulp attached, whereas Gold and Red Honey refer to processes where only the peel gets removed and the larger part of the pulp is kept attached.
This microlot coffee from Finca Caja de Aguas is a great example of yet another honey variant: the Black Honey. Not only the pulp remains attached in its entirety, but it is also fermented for longer and the beans are placed in the shade, thus slowing down the fermentation and drying process. A richer body and stronger scents requires more time and labour, which deservedly results into a more expensive product.
For this succulent Black Honey, we chose a roasting method that goes slowly at the beginning (a stage known as drying), when most of the water content in the raw bean evaporates. By letting it slowly brown, we can maximize the sweetness and the natural sugars contained in it. In the final stages, we switch to a more aggressive approach, to develop complexity in the spiced and fruity aromas.
The Smoking Tiger Roasting Style
The Smoking Tiger coffees are not very dark: we like confident but short and delicate roasts that do not hide anything in a coffee (not even its defects) but are able to intensify the specific characteristics of each territory, cultivar, and processing method. In few words: light roasts make the most of diversity.
We do not believe that different brewing methods require different roasting profiles (you might have heard it before: lighter roast for filter coffee, darker for espresso). We believe that the right roasting method for a coffee is the one that allows us to express its character at its best. Regardless of how it will be prepared by the final consumer. This approach is known as omni-roasting.