Coffee Sourcing 2017 - Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

Chicago isn't known to be the friendliest of places to call home during the cold winter months of January through March. Lucky for DMC, this is prime season for purchasing all the new coffees for 2017! 

These coffee purchasing trips are the time when both DMC and our farming partners get a chance to reflect on the previous coffees from 2016, what we did/didn't like, and preview the new crop of coffees for 2017. Why would we want to review coffees? 

Coffee is a just like any other crop and can change from year to year. Coffee can also change during the year, while we have it stored in our temperature controlled warehouse. Having open communication with our farming partners allows for us to continually learn, which leads to better tasting coffee! 

Another factor that is unique to DMC is our experimental coffees, which we started releasing in 2016. (Ale yeast, wine yeastHopped or Tamba, and Cocoa are all examples.) These experimental coffees are a way for DMC to push the envelope with coffee, expanding on knowledge acquired from collaborating with breweries, distilleries, chefs and other creatives. 

All of these projects are a result of the relationship that we have with our farming partners in Guatemala, a farm that is as forward thinking as the DMC crew. Each experiment requires a great deal of time and effort to make sure that we can gather all the knowledge about each project as possible. Some of these projects turn out great and are released, others not so much. (We learned papaya fermentation doesn't taste good.) Because the coffee crop can have some variation with each harvest, it requires constant attention to detail to make sure that it comes out good. 

Below are a small handful of pictures that show several of the working projects, coffee processing in general and the overall beauty of Finca San Jeronimo Miramar! 

 

Gesha Finca San Jeronimo Miramar 2017

The Gesha at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar is almost ready to be picked! The 2016 crop was another outstanding coffee in the DMC portfolio. Sweet peach nectar, jasmine, pineapple, and milk chocolate!

 

Micro-lots at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

"Micro-lots" in the cardamom dryers Finca San Jeronimo. We have been cupping alternate fermentation and drying experiments! Photo Jesse Diaz

Fermenting Coffee Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

The process of fermenting comes in many strange forms. In this case, it resembles a satellite image over a desert. These plumes of foam are yeast activity piercing the surface layer of coffee in a fermentation tank. Photo Aaron Campos

Finca San Jeronimo Miramar Sunrise

A beautiful sunrise at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar. This was taken by Kelly Roederer, GM at The Mothership. It was her first trip to Guatemala, but certainly not her last. DMC is proud of our ability to take different Family members on each trip, as it really helps to connect the person with the coffee. Being able to experience moments like this helps bring everything full circle for both the coffee farm and the family member. We are all in this together, working as a team to make everyone involved proud of what we accomplish. 

Experimental Coffee - Wine Yeast Fermentation

These coffees represent our continued development with fermentation, specifically, a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Saccharomyces is primarily needed to produce beer, wine and bread making it one of the most important species in the animal kingdom for humankind. These elemental contributions to us have made this Saccharomyces one of the most studied and cultivated organisms in the world.

Yeast, which is a type of fungi, is a single cell organism we need for coffee to be processed. To be clear, coffee fermentation doesn't need Saccharomyces as there is a whole universe of other yeasts out there for fermentation. Fermentation tanks usually consist of a soup of microbes that also feed on coffee sugars and are almost always open air, and made of cement. Beer, wine and bread need the byproducts of yeast for them to be successful and gain complexity and flavor, while coffee does not. At the very least, coffee needs microbes to break down the sugary gelatinous layer of pectin surrounding a coffee bean to be dried properly. We've purposefully inoculate coffee fermentation tanks with Saccharomyces so we can hopefully layer the esters and acids it produces into the coffee.

When propagated, yeast will live the most amazingly simple life on the planet - it eats, it mates and sleeps in abundance, and if it's happy, that's all these critters will do their entire life. All yeast strains have slightly different preferences to be happy but overall they need:


-Sugar
-Water with regulated temperature and pH
-Additional yeast to reproduce with  


Specific wine yeasts have been much more adaptable to the conditions of fermentation tanks in Central America. I'm generalizing here, but beer yeasts, for the most part, tend to be fussier to temperatures, sugar and environment. Experimentation with Premier Cuvee, a yeast most commonly used in Champagne and sparkling wine, is not unheard of for coffee certain processing in Central America. Premier Cuvee is ideal because it is able to thrive quickly and relatively easy within the environment of a coffee fermentation tank. There tends be flavors associated with pears, apples and other fruits high in malic acid production when brewed as a cup. 

Pasteur red wine yeast is named after the grand daddy of fermentation Louis Pasteur a chemist and microbiologist who famously invented the technique of pasteurization.  This yeast in wine will produce more exaggerated, full-bodied character - zinfandel winemakers commonly use it because of its fruitiness. Not as tolerant as Premier Cuvee but still handles nicely in a fermentation tank. 

These experiments were all conducted at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar, our allies in coffee nerdism. They've allowed us to dive into these alternative styles of fermentation and couldn't be more thankful to work with these guys.

If you need a little more help with understanding fermentation, read our previous blog post that helps to explain some of the fermentation and drying processes that are used. 


Country: Guatemala
Farm: Finca San Jeronimo
Cultivar: Caturra, Catuai
Process: Washed, fermented in Pasteur Red Wine Yeast
Taste: Sweet Cherry, Gala Apple, Hazelnut


Country: Guatemala
Farm: Finca San Jeronimo
Cultivar: Caturra, Catuai
Process: Washed, Fermented in Cuvee Yeast
Taste: Cantaloupe, Meyer Lemon, Marmalade

Experimental Coffee - Beer Yeast Fermentation

Fermentation is an integral point in the processing of coffee. For the majority of coffees, fermentation is a tool used to break down the sugary, gelatinous plant material (pectin) surrounding the coffee bean, once pulped. Specifically for washed coffees, it is not a means to enhance flavor or complexity but to remove the mucilage as quickly as possible before microbes are able to produce acids and esters that may be conceived as off flavors. 

Time is also extremely valuable to this equation as coffee fermentation typically  runs 12 to 24 hours, which is a very short compared to other processes like beer, cheese, wine, etc. Coffee is very malleable and porous after its pulped so too much time in the tank runs the risk of exposing it too much to all the microbial activity. With this experiment we wanted to use this to our advantage to allow the saison and ale yeast to produce compounds the coffee can absorb.

This process worked very similarly to the our hopped coffees, (Citra, Mosiac and El Dorado). These processes and can be considered a marinade for the coffee to sit in and absorb the wonderful flavors. These types of experimental fermentation are unique to Dark Matter Coffee and are part of our culinary approach to serving the best coffee in the world. 

If you need a little more help with understanding fermentation, read our previous blog post that helps to explain some of the fermentation and drying processes that are used. Also check out our other yeast experiments, using red wine and cuvee yeast on this blog post

Saison Yeast Fermented Coffee
Country: Guatemala 
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar 
Cultivar: Catuai, Caturra 
Process: Fermented in Ale Yeast 
Notes: Cocoa Nibbs, Hazelnut, Currant

Country: Guatemala 
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar 
Cultivar: Catuai, Caturra 
Process: Fermented in Saison Yeast 
Notes: Clementine, Thyme, Clover Honey 

 

 

Coffee Sourcing - El Salvador 2017

When sourcing coffee, DMC is fortunate enough to have relationships with some of the best coffee producers in the world. Having multiple farming partners brings varying styles of coffees, from cultivars to processing. Finca San Jeronimo Miramar in Guatemala is our partner that takes a more progressive approach, it's Federico Pacas in El Salvador that brings the classic Central American coffee that we love.

The Pacas family is known throughout the coffee industry as royalty, with genetics, processing techniques that are second to none. Federico Pacas owns Cafe Tuxpal, a mill that processes his farms Santa Petrona, San Jose, Vista Hermosa in addition to other neighboring farms. DMC will feature several of his family's Pacas cultivars again for 2017, Pacas Joven, Pacas Viejo, etc.  

The relationship with Federico Pacas is the oldest farming partnership for DMC, allowing a wealth of knowledge and coffees to grace our cups. Like any long relationship, the learning process and information shared helps both Federico & DMC to evolve and grow. It's always a pleasure to visit with Federico at his farms, but it's even more special when we get him to visit us in Chicago. (That only happens during the warm months though :)

Pacas Joven    

Nuevo Pacas Joven en Finca San Jose Sonsonate! (New Pacas Joven plants) 
These little guys look so great in the newly rehabilitated Finca San Jose. Federico Pacas replanted his namesake cultivar in place of the classic Salvadoran Red Bourbon. Times they are a changing!

Cafe Tuxpal 2017

Every year Cafe Tuxpal continues to upgrade and innovate their processing method at the mill. New developments with how they wash coffees have been incredible to witness. Photo Aaron Campos

Pacas & Diaz

Federico Pacas & Jesse Diaz, two men leading a coffee revolution! 

El Salvador 2017

Driving home from the fields, enjoy other beautiful sunset in El Salvador! 

January 20, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Tamba (High Concept Coffee Releases)

TAMBA was a lioness that prowled the land at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar in Guatemala years ago. She is now the spirit animal of the farm, safe-guarding the pristine grounds under the shadow of the volcano. TAMBA begins with innovation and discovery. It is a culmination of new and obscure cultivars yet to be released anywhere in the world! These wild genetics were discovered in the forests of Ethiopia and grown on the upper slopes of the Atitlan volcano. These experimental lots are miniscule in size, but expansive in diversity. TAMBA will continue to evolve over time as each exploration of the individual genetics continue to make their paw print on our world! 


This project is an exploration of a collection of experimental hybrids grown on Finca San Jeronimo Miramar. Each hybrid is assigned a string of code, indicating the lot, whether its cultivated by cloning or seed propagation, and the generation (if grown from a seed). Let's dive a bit deeper into clones vs seed generations with old write ups. 


We have eleven iterations of Tamba we will cycle through over time. On the back of the bag we will label the code associated with the hybrid. To help you navigate this project, the spreadsheet below will cover the hybrid's parental genetics and tasting notes.

For all of these, one of the parent cultivars will be coffees common in Central America (Catuai, Caturra, Sarchimor) and the other will be from Ethiopia. The African counterparts are either Rume Sudan, which in some theories has been considered the first expression of Arabica, or a wild tree with no genetic identification, and only referred to by the nearest town to which it was discovered.

Clones (Hybrid codes will start with C) 
Clones are produced by removing plant tissue from a "mother plant" and applying a rooting hormone to create a genetically identical plant. The purpose of cloning is stability; all trees will grow, produce, and mature identically, which is extremely helpful for analysis.

 

Seed Propagation (Hybrid codes will start with F)
Seeds are harvested to produce new trees which then provide their own set of seeds and so on - each new cycle is considered a single generation. This method will encourage genetic diversity, and allow for natural mutations that may be beneficial for farming. In this case, the producers will use this method with more stable genetics not known for genetic regression or mutation.

 

Country: Guatemala

Farm: Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

Cultivar: See corresponding chart below

Process: Washed

Notes: See corresponding chart below  

 
Coffee Code Hybrid Notes
C P15 1 Caturra x Wild Trees Cherry, Orange, Grassy
C P16 1 Catuai x Rume Sudan Berry, Lime, Currant
C P6 1 Sarchimor x Rume Sudan Strawberry, Milk Chocolate, Grassy
C P7 1 Sarchimor x Rume Sudan Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Blackberry
F1 P13 3 Caturra x Wild Trees Cocoa, Lemongrass
F1 P3 3 Sarchimor x Wild Trees Cranberry, Orange Zest, Cocoa Nibbs
F1 P8 3 Caturra x Wild Trees Milk Chocolate, Cherry, Honey
F3 P16 1 Catuai x Rume Sudan Toffee, Grapefruit, Molasses
F3 P2 3 Sarchimor x Wild Trees Almond, Orange Zest, Currant
F3 P6 1 Catuai x Rume Sudan Passion Fruit, Apricot, Molasses
Varios SHB Mix of various lots Hazelnut, Clove, Red Wine
Definitions
C Clone
F# Generation Number
P Parcel
Wild Trees Discovered in the wild
Rume Sudan Cultivated tree from Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

January 09, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

New Year's Hours

New Years hours for our retail locations!

Meddle
New Years Eve Saturday, 12/31 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
New Years Day Sunday CLOSED

The Mothership
New Years Eve Saturday, 12/31 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
New Years Day Sunday, 1/1 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Osmium
New Years Eve Saturday, 12/31 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
New Years Day Sunday, 1/1 9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Star Lounge
New Years Eve Saturday, 12/31 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
New Years Day Sunday, 1/1 9:00 am - 9:00 pm

December 30, 2016 by Kyle Hodges

HOLIDANK HOURS

Each of our retail locations will have special hours for Saturday, Dec 24th and Monday, December 26th. All locations will be closed on Sunday, December 25th so everyone can get extra dank with family, friends and that one mystery cousin. Have a GREAT HOLIDANK EVERYONE!!

Meddle
Christmas Eve Saturday, 12/24 6:00 am - 5:00 pm
Christmas Day Sunday, 12/25 CLOSED
Monday, 12/26 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
The Mothership
Friday, December 23, 6:00am - 8:00pm
Christmas Eve Saturday, 12/24 6:00 am - 5:00 pm
Christmas Day Sunday, 12/25 CLOSED
Monday, 12/26 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Star Lounge Coffee Bar
Christmas Eve Saturday, 12/24 6:00 am - 5:00 pm
Christmas Day Sunday, 12/25 CLOSED
Monday, 12/26 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
December 23, 2016 by Kyle Hodges

Big Hugs Cast

#HugsCast is a time-elapse video of DMC brewing coffee at Half Acre Beer Balmoral, Star Lounge Coffee Bar, and Osmium Coffee Bar! We brewed 20 gallons of Unicorn Blood with Pink Himalayan Salt (Cubano style) 1 fluid ounce at a time!!!! All of this was done for the annual Big Hugs beer release!
December 10, 2016 by Kyle Hodges

We Get Lyfted...

FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE

Now that we have your attention, let's explain just how to get these free gifts, courtesy of Lyft. It's all really simple, we know you love DMC coffee and so does Lyft, so we teamed up to make something great happen. All you need to do is follow the three steps below and BOOM! FREE COFFEE!

Unlock Your Bag of Beans 
Get a free bag of Dark Matter Coee beans when new Lyft users take your first ride with Lyft, the app that gets you rides in minutes. Just download and go. All four of the DMC locations will have a specific code to use, so just hop into your favorite one and follow the steps below! 
 
1. Download the Lyft app for Android or Iphone. Enter the store code in the ‘Payment’ section.
2. Request a ride and get picked up in minutes.
3. Head to the nearest DMC shop, with the code you receive via email, for your free bag.*

*excludes barrel aged or cask conditioned
November 11, 2016 by Kyle Hodges
Tags: lyft

Warm November Rain

 When I look into your cup, I can see no love restrained
And darlin' when I drink you, you'll never taste the same, 
      Nothing lasts forever, and we all know our blends change, 
        And it's hard to hold a candle to our Warm November Rain! 

This great cold weather coffee has been a cult classic for Dark Matter Coffee for many years,  it blends together washed Catuai, Caturra, and Catimor blend from Finca San Jeronimo in Guatemala. This coffee comes from Santa Isabel, a special lot on the San Jeronimo Miramar farm. It stands out as an exploration of how drying process, particularly time, can affect coffee. A quick drying process creates a more brittle cell structure, which allows for oxidation and prematurely ages the bean. By elongating the drying time, you can avoid shocking the bean and preserve the nuance and complexity of the coffee. This particular lot has been drawn between 25 and 30 days. 

Intended to help fight the lower temperatures of fall, this coffee will have you singing Sweet Child O'Mine all day with notes of bakers chocolate, macadamia nut and plum. 
Country: Guatemala
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar
Cultivar: Catuai, Caturra, Catimor
Process: Washed, Slow Dry
Notes: Baker's Chocolate, Macadamia Nut, Plum
Net Wt: 12 oz
November 09, 2016 by Kyle Hodges