We are always on the hunt for decaffeinated coffees that bring that full and amazing ‘coffee flavour profile to the table. Colombian decafs make it really easy to get all the enjoyment out of the flavour without getting a nervous caffeine high or palpitations to the heart. Our latest discovery is this lot from La Unión. It has a nicely balanced acidity with a juicy, sweet touch – just like apple sauce and a kind of spicy chocolatiness that reminded us of raw cacao. And once again we would be willing to wager: you wouldn’t be able to pick it out of a line-up with regularly caffeinated coffees – it’s that good!
This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers from the region around La Unión in the department of Nariño - one of Colombia’s gems. The valleys here are deep, the coffee bright and complex, and the scenery breath taking. Bordering Ecuador in the very South West of Colombia, Nariño
is home to the highest grown coffee in the country. The higher the coffee grows, the more slowly it matures and the more complex the cup profiles are. Nariño’s topography and its deep valleys make it a real challenge to grow coffee - or any other crop! Farmers own on average less than two hectares. More than 60% of farms throughout Nariño around 1 hectare or less and coffee is absolutely key to their livelihood as it represents 90% or more of their income.
For this particular lot, the coffee cherries are hand-picked, sorted, depulped and fermented in water tanks. After that, the seeds are dried in the sun, milled and transported to the next decaffeination plant. Here they apply a combined process of only spring water and naturally created Ethyl Acetate (EA), a natural type of alcohol solvent sourced from the sugar cane industry in the neighbouring department of Valle del Cauca.
How exactly is the caffeine is taken out of the coffee, you ask? The ethyl acetate is used to flush out the caffeine. The process begins with steaming the coffee, increasing its porosity, triggering the chemical breakdown of the bond between the caffeine, salts and chlorogenic acid in the bean. The beans are then submerged in the solvent, until 97% of the caffeine is removed. A final steam serves to remove residual traces of the compound. It all sounds very technical but in fact this way of getting rid of the caffeine is widely regarded as the least disruptive to the beans and is often referred to as natural process decaf. And the result in the cup speaks for itself – simply delicious.
La Unión - Sugarcane Decaf
100% Arabica, medium roast
Region: La Unión, Department of Nariño
Altitude: 1700 - 1900 masl
Producer: Smallholders of the area
Process: Fully Washed, Sugarcane Decaf
Varietal: Caturra, Castillo, Colombia
Tasting Notes: Apple Sauce, Cacao, Nutmeg
Recommended for: Espresso and Brewed Coffee