Irving Farm’s unique relationship with El Salvador’s Finca Talnamica and the Ortiz Herrera family has developed into one of our most fruitful, and we’re excited to announce the return of The Los Niños Experiments, a dynamic opportunity to explore how coffee processing affects flavor. We’ve taken one harvest, handpicked on the same day from the same part of the farm, and processed the coffee cherry in four different ways. The Natural, Honey, and Washed processes reflect traditional practices, but we worked with our partners at Talnamica and the award-winning Cuatro M. coffee mill to develop a process that has never been commercially produced before—Wild Honey—wherein the coffee is de-pulped and placed into fermentation tanks without water until the pH reaches 4.5, which can take 12–16 hours. This allows the remaining fruit to slowly break down. The coffee is then spread onto raised beds to dry in the sun. In essence, it’s a playful combination of the Honey and Washed processes.
EXPERIMENT #1: Natural Process: The harvested coffee, fully encased in its skin, was placed directly into a mechanical dryer at a very low temperature for 60–70 hours.Blueberry Pie, Dark Chocolate, Ooey Gooey Lemon.
EXPERIMENT #2: Honey Process Coffee was de-pulped—removing the skin and most of its fruit, but leaving some sweet, sticky mucilage on the seed—and then dried in the sun. Banana, Maple Granola, Creamy.
EXPERIMENT #3: Wild Honey Process Coffee was de-pulped and fermented in tanks without water overnight, allowing the remaining mucilage to slowly break down, before sun-drying on a patio. Chocolate Orange, Floral, Punchy Acidity.
EXPERIMENT #4: Washed Process Coffee was de-pulped and fermented in tanks without water overnight. Then it was fully cleaned of all mucilage in a mechanical washer before drying in the sun. Dried Cherry, Chocolate, Plump Body.
THE STORYIt all began in 2012 when Nena Méndez walked into our 79th Street cafe and noticed a black-and-white mural on the back wall depicting Guadalupe, a coffee farm from her homeland. She inquired about the photographer—who happened to be our Green Coffee Buyer, Dan Streetman—and invited him to visit her family farm on his next trip to El Salvador. Nena’s mother, Bessita, came from a lineage of Salvadoran coffee farmers dating back to the 1880s, and her father, Alfredo Ortiz Mancia, purchased Talnamica in the 1950s. Today the farm is owned and operated by Nena and her three siblings along with her husband, Hermann, and farm manager Don Hector Vides. The Los Niños Experiments came about when Nena & Hermann’s daughter, Mayita— who began working for Irving Farm in 2013 and represents Talnamica’s fifth generation of coffee farmers—suggested that we explore coffee processing by taking one harvest through four unique processing methods, representing the four Ortiz Herrera siblings: Nena, Freddie, Cecil & Carlos. The coffee is 100% Bourbon variety, grown at an altitude between 1360–1400 meters, and handpicked by 150 workers on the same day from the same part of the farm. The ripe cherry is brought to the Cuatro M. coffee mill and that is where the experiments begin...