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 the Pichincha and Imbabura provinces, 150 hectares in total, sourced and curated by Galo and Maria Alexandra. “Chirimoya” is the title for the small-farm blend, in honor of the native and uniquely delicious fruit widely grown and consumed across the Andes.
Principal harvest months in Pichincha and Imbabura are June to September, but farms often continue picking through December. Ecuador’s namesake position on the Earth’s equator means that medium-altitude coffee enjoys practically a perfect year-round growing season, often with flowering and ripe cherry sharing the same branch most months. For small farms this means a small but long-term labor force to manage the slow, perfectionistic work required for such a drawn-out harvest.
Tasting Notes: A nice and clean prime example of Ecuador coffee. One can see attributes of the more common neighboring countries in the cup but it has some cool spice tones that differentiate it a bit. Hints of acidity at the lighter roasts give the cup a nice floral overtone, this would still be considered a low acidity coffee. Some nutty and chocolaty tones poke out similar to a Peru or Colombian. What differentiates this cup for the neighbors is a hint of tea like spice and pepper, gives it a little kick in the aftertaste. We found the best balance at a strong medium roast, doesn’t mute all the crisp tones upfront and gives a smooth and nutty/chocolaty treat. Gets a bit edgy into the darker roasts but really builds the body and strength of the cup, mutes more of nutty tones and pronounces the bakers chocolate and smoky tones.
Roasting Notes: Easy to roast, a nice clean and super fresh washed processed coffee. Medium to low chaff. We would avoid light roasts, this cup mostly shoots for the creamier nutty and chocolaty tones which will come out a bit underdeveloped at light roasts. Medium roasts and beyond are very tasty, balanced and low acidity.
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.