The Story -
Juan Pena, the owner of La Papaya, has been a farmer for most of his life. But coffee is quite new to him, having been growing it for just six years. Before that, Juan grew long stem roses. He started experimenting with growing coffee six years ago, after disastrous weather destroyed all of his flower fields. Shortly after, he decided to turn his focus entirely towards growing coffee. He has applied the same deeply intentional and detail-oriented approach that he did to rose production to coffee, and by doing this he has been able to not only produce some of the best coffees coming out of Ecuador, but some of the best coffees in the world.
Nerdy Coffee Stuff -
Juans approach to coffee farming is so detailed, that there’s a lot to unpack here, so hold on.
Horticulture - We’re all familiar with variety gardens, where coffee producers can experiment with how different varieties of coffee grow on their land, and of course Juan has one. But, what is less common is an ‘inputs’ garden, where Juan has labelled different trees according to the fertilizer that is used (organic, manure, chemical fertilizers, etc). Through this, he is able to decide on the best way to fertilize the rest of his farm, while constantly tracking changes that need to be made to ensure top quality.
In this part of Ecuador, there is no rainy season. This is extremely challenging for coffee farmers, as it is the rains that make coffee trees bloom. So, to tackle this, Juan artificially produces a ‘rainy season’ by spraying all of his coffee trees with sprinklers, for several weeks. This also means that he is able to control when he wants his trees to bloom, giving him even more control over the entire production process.
This particular lot of coffee is all Typica variety, an original heirloom variety originally from Ethiopia, and probably one of the most important varieties of coffee ever. It’s pretty unusual to find 100% typica lots, but Juan produces a lot of all typica lots, and they are exceptionally nuanced and espressive. It was also grown in block #7, the highest part of his farm sitting at 2100m above sea level, one of the highest coffee growing altitudes in the world. This exceptional altitude means that his coffee cherries ripen extremely slowly, and develop more nutrients and sugar, imparting the coffee with huge sweetness and perfumed florals.
Attention to detail doesn’t stop at the cultivation of coffee plants though - far from it. Juan designs his processing methods specifically to the variety of coffee, and part of the farm that the coffee was grown. This leads to a truly, intentionally designed coffee experience, from start to finish. This particular coffee was washed and dried on raised beds, under full sunlight.
We worked with our friends at cafe imports to bring this coffee in. They have been working with Juan for several years, and bring in most of his coffee. We paid $7.49 per pound for this coffee, and cupped it at 90.
- The commodity price for coffee was $1.19 per pound at the time of purchase.
Brewing Information -
Filter Coffee - V60
20g in - 320g out - 1:16 ratio 60g bloom for 30 seconds with a stir. Then, pour the rest of the water in slow, concentric circles. Finish pouring between 0:55 and 1:00, and finish draining from 3:30 - 4:00.
This coffee is SUPER dense, which can make it a little tricky to dial in. I like it in the V60 best, as it can get a little choked in flat bottom brewers like the Kalita. The V60 also does an excellent job of highling some of the more delicate and floral flavours that make this coffee shine. Because this coffee is so dense though, you’re going to want to grind quite a bit coarser than you might be used to, and even then, it will take awhile to finish draining.
20g in - 50g out - 28-30 seconds
This coffee makes a SUPER delicious espresso, but again, it can be a little tricky. Because it’s so dense and delicate, a longer yield really helps to space out those flavors and achieve a nice and high extraction yield. The florals really pop in the aroma of the espresso, and the mouthfeel gets silky and juicy, reminding me of a pineapple. There’s some lovely tropical fruit sweetness, and citrus acidity like lemon/lime. This coffee can get kind of lost in milk though, so i’d recommend sticking to black coffee here.