Thanks to the Capitol Hill Blog, @CHSfeed, and the @seattleweekly Blog, the word is out about our little Arabica Tree and Finca Victrola. In the spirit of fun and education, we've been caring for this 10 foot tall coffee tree for the past few years using it as a tool for training baristas and during public coffee cuppings every Wednesday at 11am. When a customer or new hire shows interest in the origin of coffee, being able to touch an actual coffee producing tree and look up through its branches at vibrant blossoms and berries is invaluable!
Each season she produces fragile white flowers which turn into pistachio-sized green berries. Weeks later, the color slowly turns to a bright crimson. The skin of the cherry is tight and thick and shines in the natural light from the skylight above the tree as it thrives in the cupping room at the café and roastery on Pike St in Seattle. Though the tree grows at sea level, we've kept the temperature in the café comfortable and kept her on a watering schedule that allowed for a better yield this year.
We harvested for the second time this month and I snapped some photos. The skins came cleanly away from the beans inside. In fact, if you aren’t careful, the bean will shoot right out of the fruit as you squeeze the cherry! What’s left behind is a delicately colored nugget of mucilage-covered coffee bean. It is extremely dense and virtually inedible at this point.
The beans then go into a moisture controlled environment for a time to encourage fermentation. We are experimenting with our own version of a pulp-natural process but don’t have the proper tools to formally process the beans we pick. Next, the beans will be set out to dry & the mucilage will be stripped away. Then our roasting team will roast them in the sample roaster and we’ll cup them within a day or two.
Judging from our past ventures into processing & roasting coffee from our own tree, I think we will skip submitting our Finca Victrola roast to Coffee Review to be evaluated… Flavor wise, the results have left much to be desired. But it’s still pretty cool to be able to experiment with this stuff. We’ll harvest only a small number of beans since we only have one tree at Finca Victrola, and though it takes roughly 75-100 roasted beans to make a cup of coffee, we keep our hopes high but our expectations realistic!
Keep you posted…