Roasters notes: There’s a lot to say about this coffee, and I hope you stick around to read about it. Edwin is a master of coffee fermentation, and his innovative techniques simultaneously introduce new flavors without masking the coffee itself.
He is an agroindustrial engineer by trade with graduate studies in biotechnology, and is known for his use of Mossto – the coffee cherry juice runoff that occurs during fermentation – and using it to control the fermentation of the next batch. This technique is intended to enhance the coffee’s naturally occurring flavors, and in a recent interview Edwin said, “It was a development that we adapted from the world of wine to enhance the flavors of coffee, always trying to intensify each coffee process using the original coffee flavors.”
That same philosophy applies to this particular coffee, where homemade chili concentrate was infused with the Mossto to enhance the cultivar’s naturally “spicy” flavor profile. Royal Coffee provides some insight here:
“ají is a south American word for chili peppers generically and was given to this particular strain of arabica by a Colombia Cup of Excellence farmer from Huila, José Salazar, who, during harvest, perceived a spicy pepper-like fragrance coming from the coffee fruit as it was broken off its branches. After earning 6th place in the Cup of Excellence in 2021, an investigation was launched into the genetic origins of the winning plants; it was discovered that they were in fact of an unknown lineage to Colombia; however, they could be genetically linked to certain rare landrace varieties in Ethiopia. It wasn’t, in fact, even a bourbon as far as researchers could tell.”
“Noreña picked this coffee from Bourbon trees, using a brix meter to selectively harvest, after which the cherries soak underwater for about an hour. Primary fermentation takes 96 hours and occurs in whole cherry, in a sealed tank, which is infused with Aji “Chili Mossto.” (Mossto, or “must,” is used here to indicate the runoff of a prior fermentation batch.) The coffee is then pulped and set for secondary fermentation with a fresh chili pepper mossto infusion for an additional 48 hours. This heavily fermented “honey” coffee is then taken to raised beds to dry for 22 days, followed by a controlled warehouse humidity stabilization for an additional 8 days.”
In the cup, this coffee is eminently delicious and complex. The cup starts with a wonderful Mojito with chili flavor – lime, mint, juicy and sweet. It finishes with cinnamon and Mexican hot chocolate, delectably sweet and spicy at the same time. Please note! This coffee is not physically “hot” – it has the spice flavors without the heat. As a person who appreciates Mezcal and chili cocktails, this coffee is right up my ally, and I’ll be drinking every drop I can!