This lot is composed of the work of 26 individual producers, who have together started the Tinamit Tolimán cooperative. They are located around the town of San Lucas Tolimán, on the slopes of a volcanic crater. The crater was formed by an eruption over 80,000 years ago, and has since formed into Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America.
“The volcanic soil leads to excellent raw material, while the cooperative carefully control the honey process to create a rich and ripe cup profile.”
The fertile soils around the lake lead to excellent potential for coffee, something members of the cooperative have been taking advantage of for many years. It was only in 2016 that they decided to found the Tinamit cooperative, initially only marketing their coffees together. Each individual produces their own coffee, and the vast majority is washed. It is only over the past few years that they have begun to experiment with natural and honey processing.
For this, the processing is controlled centrally, with each producer contributing high-quality cherries to a new processing station built next the cooperative’s offices. The quality has been improving year on year, and this honey lot is the first we have purchased from the Tinamit producers. Cherries were driven to the processing station the same day as picking and de-pulped immediately, before drying initially on patios for the first few days. This dries the coffees outer shell quickly, avoiding problems with mould and avoiding excessive fermentation, leading to a cleaner cup profile. The coffee is then moved to raised beds to finish drying, leading to a longer shelf life, and lasting fresh and bright flavours in the cup. In this lot, we find fresh peach, a deep molasses sweetness, and a rich roasted hazelnut finish.
With the honey process a certain amount of mucilage and pulp are allowed to remain on the coffee bean during depulping. The cover will stay with the bean during fermentation and drying thereby contributing to the sugars absorbed by the bean and affecting the flavour notes of the final cup. The amount of mucilage remaining defines the type of honey process – white, yellow, red or black in ascending order of mucilage concentration. If they are processed properly, the coffees can take on quite a lot of sweetness and flavours while remaining clean.
Raised drying beds (sometimes referred to as African drying beds) are often preferable when working with honey processed coffees, because of the additional airflow they allow. The air ensures that the beans dry evenly and reduces the incidence of fungi and bacteria formation. On the other hand, some farmers are accustomed to using sun-exposed patio drying that require a regular raking of beans to avoid moulds. While total fermentation and drying time depend on such choices as well as ambient temperature and moisture levels, red honey processing easily needs two weeks from depulping until drying has completed.