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Guatemala Miel de Oro Black Honey

Huckleberry Roasters

I think we’ve all found one of our favorite bands unexpectedly when one of our friends has said, “Hey man, you like [Fugazi]? Borrow my [One Last Wish] CD, I think you’ll like it.” Well, maybe that CD or tape exchange is going by the wayside in the age of mp3s and streaming music, but that’s kinda how we stumbled across Miel de Oro.

Last February when Huck was in Guatemala to visit AProCafé on Lake Atitlán, our coffee buyer Kevin’s friend Frosty (or Cristian, but he’s pale by Guatemalan standards and that’s what everyone calls him) said “Hey dude, you should meet my friends Christian and Mario, they have some great coffee that I think you’d like.” And so we cupped with Christian and Mario, and decided to bring in our first honey-processed coffee, Miel de Oro, grown by Mario at his family’s farm, Monte de Oro.

While the bulk of our Guatemalan coffee and our efforts in the country will remain centered around the smaller-scale growers in AProCafé, we’ve never closed off the idea of other Guatemalan coffees. Mario Alarcón and Christian Starry are slightly larger-scale growers in the Acatenango region of the country, and a few years ago they banded together with other growers in the region to export their own coffee under the name Truth Trading Company. When we tasted coffee together, Mario’s coffee stood out as not just delicious, but also unique in comparison to the rest of our lineup.

Wanna nerd out? Great, keep reading. Don’t want to nerd out? Skip the next two paragraphs.

So a honey-processed is picked ripe, like any other coffee in our lineup, but falls somewhere between a washed coffee and a natural. Washed coffees are depulped of their cherry skin, then have all the additional sticky fruity material (honey or mucilage) washed off prior to drying. Naturals are dried with the fruit intact. Honeys are depulped, but dried with varying levels of that mucilage still on the bean. White honeys dry with very little mucilage, black honeys dry with the most.

Mario takes the basics several steps further. He uses a brix meter to decide when to pick his coffee for optimal sweetness (22 Brix), then before depulping, keeps his coffee in its cherry for a day or two of anaerobic fermentation. Then he depulps his coffee, leaving a large amount of mucilage intact, and dries slowly on raised beds over the course of 2-3 weeks. With its in-cherry fermentation, Miel de Oro almost straddles the line between honey and full natural, and we have a feeling that’s part of the reason it’s a standout.

All said and done, we’re here to roast you coffee that tastes good and tastes interesting, and we’re pretty happy that a friend put Miel de Oro in our playlist. This is a full-bodied, creamy, and deeply sweet coffee that will stand up great to milk and work great as an espresso. It also packs plenty of complexity, without the intensity of some full naturals and a tad less brightness than some full washed coffees. Full natural berry jam gets toned down to a pleasant orange and apricot marmalade, and get balanced out with some flavors that we find familiar with some of our washed Guats - chocolate, dark dried fruit, nut butter. On the bag we say cashew butter, marmalade, Raisinette, and creamy. If you’re looking for a coffee with complexity but mellower acidity and full sweetness, Miel de Oro might be your pot of gold.

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