Finca Las Chicharras
Finca Las Chicharras stands as the proud recipient of the prestigious Cup of Excellence #5 place in 2018, marking a significant milestone for E-Cafe. As our inaugural farm, it holds a special place in our journey within the coffee industry. As E-Cafe evolved over the years, we recognized the crucial need for a dedicated finca – a coffee farm under our direct management. Thus, the inception of Finca Las Chicharras addressed this need, providing E-Cafe with a stable and controllable source of coffee.
Situated in the region of Jaltenango, now known as Angel Albino Corzo, Finca Las Chicharras is strategically located in an area synonymous with the production of Chiapas coffee. This locale is pivotal in ensuring the quality and authenticity of the coffee we offer, as it serves as a hub for the cultivation of some of the finest coffee beans in the Chiapas region. Through the establishment of Finca Las Chicharras, E-Cafe not only secured a reliable supply of coffee but also gained the ability to oversee and manage the entire coffee production process, from cultivation to harvest. This integration allows us to maintain a hands-on approach, ensuring the highest standards of quality and consistency in every cup of coffee bearing the E-Cafe name.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful… Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly, but can be equally terrible when things go wrong. Natural processing, or dry processing, refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. Long before the age of portafilter tattoos and dual-boiler home espresso machines, coffee was picked and dried this way out of convenience. It is, to this day, still the most convenient and economically friendly way to process coffee cherries. (It’s estimated that dry-processing can use up to 90% less water than the washing process.) So why isn’t all coffee processed this way? Well, as coffee made its way across the world, it was commoditized and standardized, just like all other products spread by colonialism, but that’s a whole other story... Adding to the boom of washed processing, the natural process method can be tricky to get right, due to the delicate nature of fermentation and drying. What does all this have to do with the final cup? Well, when you leave the skin and fruit of the coffee cherry on the seed throughout fermentation and drying, that fruit begins to break down, imparting esters that influence delicate florals and big fruit notes into the seed that survive the roasting process. If it’s rushed or handled incorrectly, this fruit rot can lend off-flavors to the coffee, making the final cup “dirty” or “fermenty.”
How is this done? It starts at harvest, with the selective harvesting of ripe coffee cherries. Only the fully mature cherries are picked, as they have the highest sugar content and flavor potential. The harvested cherries are then sorted to remove any damaged or under ripe cherries. This ensures that only the best quality cherries are used in the primary fermentation. After sorting, the cherries are spread out in thin layers on large drying beds or patios to dry naturally under the sun. (or sometimes under shade) They are periodically raked and turned to ensure even drying. This step can take several weeks depending on weather conditions. As the cherries dry, they undergo a natural fermentation process. Enzymes present in the fruit interact with the sugars and other compounds, causing chemical reactions that impact the flavor profile of the coffee. This fermentation adds complexity and fruity flavors to the final cup. During the drying/ fermentation process, the cherries must be protected from rain, humidity, pests, and mold.
Farmers often cover the cherries with tarps during the night or when there's a risk of adverse weather. The coffee cherries are dried until they reach an optimal moisture content of around 11-12%. At this point, the cherries have shrunk, and the outer skin and fruit can be easily removed to reveal the green coffee seed inside, which is ready for roasting after a short boat ride. Basically, that single cherry begins to slowly decay, and controlling that delicate action through advanced technique and metrics allow us, lucky folks, to drink wonderfully floral and fruity coffees.