This is small holder coffee aggregated and milled by the award winning Galo Flores and his wife Maria Alexandra Rivera, of Finca Cruz Loma.
Galo and Maria Alexandra, in addition to personally producing some of the top coffees in Ecuador also aggregate smaller producers in their region with excellent coffee to sell. This coffee is a blend of various small family farms from Ecuador’s northern and Imbabura province, 30 hectares in total, sourced and curated by Galo and Maria Alexandra. The lot is named “Totora” after the large reed traditionally cultivated throughout the Andes famous for its strength and water filtration abilities. Totora’s uses range from crafts of various kinds, to thatching for houses, to entire watercraft; if you’ve ever seen images of the ornate woven rafts used on Lake Titicaca, Totora is the material.
Unique processing on these beans leaves a stellar result, cherry is depulped immediately after picking and fermented in sealed tanks (known as “anaerobic” fermentation) for 20-26 hours in tanks. After fermentation, the parchment is thoroughly washed and moved to raised beds under shade canopy for a slow and even drying stage. This often provides cleaner cups that are more repeatable year to year than traditional washed processing, it is at the expense of much more labor. Tends to add more floral and soft fruit tones to the cup.
Tasting Notes: A lovely more new wave coffee. This coffee is best in the light to medium roast range, sweet edged, medium acidity, wonderful floral tones and a very clean cup. Hints of soft fruit can be found but are pretty minor, accentuates a little as the cup cools. The lighter tones of the cup mix with a pretty classic nutty/chocolaty undertone, what separates these beans from most South American offerings, they are wonderfully developed at the lighter roast points and mix very nicely with the more floral fruity aspects of the cup. Darker roasts close to into second crack are also tasty but much more traditional, fuller bodied with a pretty simple nutty/chocolaty tone, much more similar to Peru/Honduran coffees at fuller roasts.
Roasting Notes: Easy to roast, beautiful prep and medium to low chaff. We found dragging out the roast a bit (lower temps) and shooting for a lighter roast was the way to go, leaves the cup exotic and crisp without much risk for grassy or overly sour tones. Medium roasts were equally as tasty and didn’t matter as much if you dragged out the roast, would shoot here if looking to keep it simple.
In addition to coffee it is common for farms in this area to grow any combination of potatoes, plantains, corn, sugar cane, cacao, soursop and chirimoya, and heart of palm. As everywhere in the coffee world, harvest on small farms typically involves the whole available family as well as hired pickers. Coffee in Pichincha and Imbabura is processed at home on personal equipment and dried on hand-made structures and greenhouses. Cherry is depulped immediately after picking and fermented in sealed tanks (known as “anaerobic” fermentation) for 1-2 days. After fermentation, the parchment is thoroughly washed and moved to raised beds under shade canopy for a slow and even drying stage.
Galo and Maria Alexandra, the managers and curators of this small-farm blend, manage their own Finca Cruz Loma, a 350-hectare plot in the community of San José de Minas, a small town in the northwestern part of Pichincha, a short trip north of Quito. The estate has been in Galo’s family going back 80 years. Galo’s experience in coffee began 20 years ago working alongside his mother on the farm; he would go on to work professionally in the coffee sector, for exporters and as a project manager, before returning to full-time farming. In Galo’s words, “cultivating my coffee is an activity that allows me to apply and develop the skills and habits I’ve learned over the years; it’s also an essential resource for my family, since my wife, my daughters, and myself are all involved with the production and marketing of our coffee. Everybody in the family has a critical role in the coffee’s success.” Galo’s experience in the value chain has positioned his family well to help create opportunities for other farms by representing their coffees to exporters and directly to Royal Coffee.