CATALYST COLLECTION is a subscribers-only page where we share information about the international roasters and their coffees we bring in. Before we send out your subscription coffees, we taste and select our favourite coffees they have on offer at the time. We also add on our interpretation by sharing our brewing profiles with you.
This month we feature on The Barn from Berlin, Germany.
About The Barn
The Barn is a leading coffee roaster in Europe, based in Berlin, Germany.
Their philosophy is to source and roast some of the best coffees available in season with best care possible. They aim to bring out the full flavour potential of each coffee by roasting light and clean yet fully developed. Each coffee is high quality and roasted to sing on its own, therefore they do not blend.
They also support the specialty coffee chain from crop to cup and willing to pay premium prices to create sustainable business and life for the farmers. This support not only creates good relationship with the farmers for fully traceable coffee, but also helps to create good coffee as all coffees they bring in has cupping scores of 86 points and over.
They have two cafes in Berlin and their baristas are required to record the brew profile and flavour notes as feedback to the roaster. They never stop to make effort for improvement as they collected 24 water samples from customers around the world, from London to Dubai, in order to assess each water’s taste and composition. As the result of this project, they began adapting its roast towards the median of the water samples, so that customers can enjoy the taste of the same coffee globally.
Origin : West Valley, Costa Rica
Producer : Laszlo Banyai
Cultivar : Caturra, Catuai
Altitude : 1,500-1,600 m.a.s.l
Harvest : November-March
Flavour : Pineapple, Guava, Vibrant
Process : Yellow Honey
Costa Rica is famous for their honey process coffees. Same variety coffee picked from the same farm can taste very different when different processing methods were applied.
When Natural Process is drying the whole coffee cherry before taking out the seeds/beans, Washed Process is taking the flesh off the seeds and washing it using water. Honey Process, on the other hand, is somewhere in between these two where flesh is taken off but instead of washing, seeds are dried straight away.
Honey Process can be called White, Yellow, Red or Black Honey depending on how much flesh is left on the seeds before drying. The lighter the colour is with less flesh, the darker the more. Generally, the more flesh gives heavier body and berry-like fruit notes in the cup.
Laszlo Banyai originates from Hungary and has background in wine making which he applied his experience to Specialty Coffee. Laszlo owns two farms in the famous Costa Rican West Valley, La Isla and Lourdes since five years ago.
The West Valley is one of the regions in Costa Rica which produces the most complex and highest quality coffee due to its microclimates. Farmers work in harmony with nature for healthy coffee and sustainable business.
Predominant varieties grown in the areas are Caturra and Catuai, however, some Villa Sarchi can be found as well. Farmers are committed to picking only the ripe cherries which are separated into Medium Hard Beans, Good Hard Beans and Strictly Hard Beans (MHB, GHB, SHB).
Caturra - Created in Brazil from Red Caturra and Yellow Caturra cultivars which originated by natural mutation of Red Bourbon.
Catuai - Hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra bred in Brazil.
The Costa Rican Coffee Grading System
A primary characteristic of high quality coffee is how fast the coffee cherry (fruit) matures, with slower maturing coffee cherry generally producing a higher quality coffee bean (e.g., brighter acidity and nicer flavour). Central American coffees in particular use the bean hardness as the basis of their grading system.
Strictly Hard Beans (SHB) - Beans harvested from altitude above 1,200 meters.
Good Hard Beans (GHB) - Beans harvested from altitude between 1,000-1,200 meters.
Medium Hard Beans (MHB) - Beans harvested from altitude between 500-1,000 meters.
Why We Chose This Coffee
When most of the international roasters we feature are offering washed process coffees, this is the first non-washed coffee we came across and it tastes so beautiful, sweet and clean. It is a good coffee to compare with washed process.
Origin : Narino, Colombia
Producer : Segundo Omar Munoz
Cultivar : Castillo, Caturra
Altitude : 1,850 m.a.s.l
Harvest : May-July
Flavour : Blackcurrant, Wild Honey, Jam
Process : Washed
This microlot was produced by Segundo Omar Munoz. Finca La Montana is a 2 hectare farm located in Pena Blanca, Narino. This coffee has incredible profile which tastes like a fusion of Kenya and Colombia.
Narino’s unique climate conditions contribute to the high quality of the coffees there. Dynamic slopes and valleys that comprise the landscape in this department have direct effect on the temperature modulation that creates these high-acidity, super sweet coffees. Warm, humid air collects in the lowlands during the day and creeps up the mountainsides at night, a combination that allows coffee to thrive at much higher altitudes than most of the rest of the country, as much as 2,300 meters above sea level.
Cafe de Colombia’s research centre Centicafe is dedicated to studying and improving all aspects related to coffee farming. In 1968, it began a genetic improvement programme to create rust-resistant varieties.
The centre first looked to Caturra and the Timor Hybrid. Many rust-resistant varieties have been made that way, and are labelled Catimors. Caturra is small and compact, which allows producers to grow more plants in the same area. The Timor Hybrid, on the other had, is an Arabica-Robusta cross from East Timor that offers rust-resistance.
The first experiments gave place to the Colombia variety. It was released in 1982, one year before leaf rust reached the country for the first time, but Centicafe wanted to improve the variety even further. The goal was greater productivity, greater resistance, bigger beans, and greater quality - similar to that of Caturra. On top of this, given the long life of coffee plants, hardiness was important.
Many more trials later, the team finally succeeded. Centicafe had created five generations of the variety that would be called Castillo and after 23 years of research and development, it was released for production in 2005.
Castillo is resistant to both leaf rust and coffee berry disease.
Given its location, the topoclimates and microclimates in the coffee producing areas of Nariño grant it a series of particular conditions adequate for coffee growing in terms of water availability, temperature, sunlight, and wind patterns.
Firstly, it is important to highlight the fact that the rugged mountains and steep slopes allow a rather fast changing variation in temperature throughout the day. The topographic conditions allow for a coffee production that would be impossible at such a great heights above sea level in other parts of Colombia or in other countries. The warm humid winds which rise up from the bottom of the valleys is what allow the coffee growers here to cultivate coffee plants at altitudes of up to 2,300 m.a.s.l.
Nariño only has one wet season a year, from October to May, when theIntertropical convergence zonepasses over the region. This rainfall pattern is known as monomodal distribution (see Graph 1). The driest months: June, July and August, coincide with the trade winds from the south of the continent, characteristic in the region. The warm air currents in the daytime and cold nights allow greater condensation of the water vapor, which increases humidity, which, in turn, allows the coffee trees to survive the dryer months.
For coffee plants to flower, they need periods of continuous dry days of long or medium duration, and for those periods to be alternated with rain or brusque temperature changes. This, together with the monomodal rainfall pattern in the Nariño region, favor concentrated flowering during the first rains of September, which means that harvesting is concentrated between April and July of the following year. Graph 2 illustrates the rain distribution pattern and hydric balance throughout the year.
The soils of the Andes in the Nariño region are volcanic, which means that they provide the plants with substantial amounts of basic nutrients required for coffee production and, thus, contribute to the plants’ permanence and sustainability.
Why We Chose This Coffee
This coffee was singing to us on the cupping table. Simply tastes really good. Juicy, sweet & clean.
Now, brew away and enjoy!