Dark Matter Coffee And Friends Tokyo Pop-Up

Dark Matter Coffee & Friends is a two day pop-up in the Shibuya-Ku neighborhood of Tokyo, hosted by Craftheads. Featuring experimental coffees, beer collaborations, artwork from Shawnimals and a Public Image Ltd presentation from Martin Atkins! Join us Thursday & Friday, September 20 & 21st starting at 11:00am!

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 

 

 

Hop Fermented Coffee

Several years ago amidst the ice coffee mania we saw our friends Oddly Correct Coffee doing a really cool variant using a cold coffee extraction with dry hops. We always thought that was so rad and asked ourselves how we could riff on that idea. So we played with some dry hopping in pour overs Half Acre Beer one year when we were brewing coffee for ‪#‎BIGHUGS‬.

Coffee fermentation is a major focus for DMC, it's one of the many areas that separates us from our peers. More specifically, we are trying to grasp a better understanding of fermentation's nebulous process and then modifying our approach to achieve a desirable result . In this experiment, we wanted to see how the acids in hops would affect the microbiology present in fermentation tanks and more importantly, how the hop character would impact flavor. So exactly how does this hop fermented coffee process work? 

Hop pellets are potent little capsules that contain gargantuan levels of acidity, spice, and fruit. Managing the exact hop dosage is very important to get the desired effect in the final product. Catuai was chosen for this experiment because of its stability and consistency, two characteristics that helped to gain more control when conducting experiments. To make a long story short, the end result was essentially dry hopping three different fermentation tanks holding the Catuai, each with a different hop. Citra, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops were chosen because of their differing characteristics with spice, fruit and herbal notes . This will be an ongoing project we will continue to hone in on. Its difficult to say where this experiment will lead but we are excited to sink our teeth into this one for years to come!

These three coffees were released in 2016, the first dry hopped coffees being sold in the world, all with roaring success. We even decided to dry hop our Chocolate City iced coffee for several events, CBC Boston & Copenhagen, Lollapalooza and special offerings at our retail locations. Expect to see more hopped coffee releases, both iced and whole bean in 2017! 

El Dorado Hops

Country: Guatemala
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar
Cultivar: Catuai
Hop: Fermented with El Dorado Hops
Notes: Cantaloupe, Honey, Milk Chocolate

 

Citra Hops

Country: Guatemala
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar
Culivar: Catuai
Hops: Fermented with Citra Hops
Notes: Cocoa, Orange, Pineapple

Mosiac Hops

Country: Gautemala
Farm: San Jeronimo Miramar
Cultivar: Catuai
Hops: Fermented with Mosiac Hops
Notes: Plum, Pear, Lemongrass