Since I (Rasmus Gamrath) started working in specialty coffee 4 years ago, Hacienda La Esmeralda has always been one of those farms that have been standing out to me as something very unique. The cleanliness, sweetness and amazing floral aromas in their coffees are a constant positive surprise when we brew it in the bar. Therefor I was very excited to get to visit them and see what they are doing so differently to produce such a high quality of coffee.
Upon arrival we went straight to the cupping room, Rachel Peterson let us participate in her everyday cupping of the newest picked lots. The Geisha lots can get picked over ten times during harvest, to make sure that the cherries are picked at the best possible ripeness. Rachel cups every picking and make sure that only the best gets chosen for the auction lots. It is a very work demanding process, it seems to be well worth it though.
After the cupping we went to have lunch with the Peterson family. It was really inspiring to hear that they are still seeking out new ways to try to improve the quality in what they do. It was particular interesting listening to their talks about trying out different varietals, and how it can be hard to know what will work and what will not. It was also interesting to hear that the now so famous Geisha varietal was actually planted back in the day to test its level of resistance and not because of its distinct flavour profile, which was only discovered later when Daniel Peterson cupped it separate from other varieties.
After lunch we went out to the field, it was afternoon so most of the pickers were sitting and sorting the day’s pickings. Rachel explained how they make sure that the pickers are doing a good job. They try to make sure that it is the same pickers that comes back every year, and it’s people from the Indian Gnobe tribe. The ones picking the Geishas are paid up to three times as much as normal, they also get paid a bonus after the harvest so they will have an income more then ones a year, and they are receiving ongoing training in how to pick in the best possible manner.
Walking around in the fields it was extreme to see how the outlay of the field would change due to wind. Crossing a small peak on the mountainside would dramatically change the look on the field. They are trying to minimize the winds influence by putting up windbreakers at the worst areas.
Back at the processing plant we saw todays pickings coming in by truck. At Esmeralda they use a mechanical demucilageinating machine.
For the larger lots of coffee they use mechanical dryers for the smaller lots they dry the coffee on patios. Rachel described the different steps for us and as with everything else they seemed to be on top of all the different processes that goes into producing high quality coffee.
Visiting Hacienda La Esmeralda did not disappoint in any way. They are just as skilled and professional as one would think when tasting their amazing coffee.
The fresh crop of Esmeralda are expected to arrive within weeks of the auction May 26th 2015