The municipality of San Fernando is located around 24 kilometres from the region’s capital ‘Ocotal’ and of the 10,000 residents, the vast majority are coffee farmers. This beautiful area is home to the stunning and aptly named ‘Finca El Bosque’ (which translates to ‘the forest’) and has been owned by Julio Peralta since 1991. The farm lies on the mountainous slopes in the Nuevo Segovia region on the border of Honduras, providing spectacular views of the surrounding forests and mountains of Jicaro and San Fernando. The environment is incredibly wild and coffee grows densely amongst shade trees of banana and inga, the potassium provided to the soil by the banana trees is elemental to the nutrition of the coffee on the farm. El Bosque produces coffee at altitudes of between 1250 to 1560 metres above sea level and has an annual rainfall of approximately 1800 millimetres. These factors, along with Julio’s inherited passion and dedication for growing exceptional coffee, combine to produce lively, bright and complex flavour nuances in the cup. Javier Antonia Mayorquin is the manager of Finca El Bosque and of the 140 hectares that make up El Bosque, only 30 of them are allocated for coffee production. The rest of the land has been set aside for the growth of different varieties of pine and oak, and it is this factor along with a clear commitment to sustainable environmental practice that has resulted in Rainforest Alliance certification for El Bosque. All power on the farm is provided by solar panels and a rainwater harvesting tank which produces hydroelectricity.
Ripe cherries are handpicked and sorted between December and March. There is a wet mill on the farm where the ripe red cherry is deposited and weighed from each picker. The cherries then enter floatation tanks where ripes and unripes are separated by density. The selected cherries are then pulped in a Penagos eco-pulper to remove the skin from each fruit, the water is recycled and reused in this process before entering oxidation ponds to remove bi-products. The sticky pulped beans then enter fermentation tanks for between 14 and 18 hours before being washed in channels. The washed beans are then taken to the drying patios at the nearby mill of San Ignacio where they are regularly turned by rake to ensure good, even drying. The overall drying process will take around 10 to 12 days.
SPARKLING WATER DECAFFEINATION PROCESS
This process was first discovered by a scientist called Kurt Zosel at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in 1967 as he was looking at new ways of separating mixtures of substances. In 1988, a German decaffeination company called CR3 developed this process for decaffeination whereby natural carbon dioxide (which comes from prehistoric underground lakes) is combined with water to create ‘sub-critical’ conditions which creates a highly solvent substance for caffeine in coffee. It is a gentle, natural and organically certified process and the good caffeine selectivity of the carbon dioxide guarantees a high retention level of other coffee components which contribute to taste and aroma.
The process is outlined below:
1. The green beans enter a ‘pre-treatment’ vessel where they are cleaned and moistened with water before being brought into contact with pressurised liquid carbon dioxide. When the green coffee beans absorb the water, they expand and the pores are opened resulting in the caffeine molecules becoming mobile.
2. After the water has been added, the beans are then brought into contact with the pressurised liquid carbon dioxide which combines with the water to essentially form sparkling water. The carbon dioxide circulates through the beans and acts like a magnet, drawing out the mobile caffeine molecules.
3. The sparkling water then enters an evaporator which precipitates the caffeine rich carbon dioxide out of the water. The now caffeine free water is pumped back into the vessel for a new cycle.
4. This cycle is repeated until the required residual caffeine level is reached. Once this has happened, the circulation of carbon dioxide is stopped and the green beans are discharged into a drier.
5. The decaffeinated coffee is then gently dried until it reaches its original moisture content, after which it is ready for roasting.