In My Mug

Episode 542: Guatemala Finca La Soledad Bella Vistina 90hr Fermentation Washed Catuai

March 30, 2019
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Raul Perez has grown up around coffee. He comes from a fifth-generation coffee-farming family on his father's side, and a third generation family on his mother's side. Coffee has always been part of his life.

Finca La Soledad has been a Pérez family coffee farm since 1895. The farm is located in Acatenango, near to the Acatenango volcano. It has a great microclimate at an altitude of 1,650 metres above sea level. 🌋

The Pérez family have invested heavily in their mill, rebuilding it with the environment in mind. They have a clever system through which they are able to recycle the water they use for processing many times. ♻️

Raul and his dad Henio work together on the farm to raise quality standards every day. They have built a cupping and roasting lab on the farm, and Raul has been roasting and cupping samples of days' pickings so they can learn at farm level what they can do to improve the cup.

All our lots from La Soledad this year are dry fermented Washed coffees. This means that after the cherries have been picked and depulped, they are stored in tanks where fermentation by yeast and lactic acid bacteria breaks down the fruit mucilage so that it falls away from the bean in the centre. This fermentation process isn’t just a practical way of getting to the coffee beans, though; it also plays a key part in developing the flavours that make a great coffee something special. It’s a super interesting (and complex!) part of the bean's journey from the plant to us, and one with which the Perez family are exploring and experimenting in ways we haven’t seen anywhere else in coffee.

This is Bella Vistina - one of two Catuai micro lots (the other is Amaton) we have from Finca La Soledad this year. Each has a subtly different fermentation process, but they're otherwise very similar.

This lot has been fermented for 90 hours. The typical time for a dry fermentation would be 35–40 hours at 20°C to 26°C, so this has had about 50-55 hours longer than a typical dry fermentation on the farm! If a lot ferments for too long, it usually develops unpleasant flavours but fear not the folks at La Soledad wouldn't let that happen and definitely didn't here.

This is possible because the team at La Soledad have got a clever trick to control the temperature. By running copper pipes around the tank and pumping cold water through those pipes, they can cool the fermenting beans down. This slows down the rate of fermentation but also changes the kind of flavour compounds the yeast and bacteria produce, allowing the fermentation to progress further without developing unpleasant flavours.

That’s all a bit clever, but what matters is how it tastes, right? Well, it really delivers on the sweet and clean flavours from that long, slow fermentation.

In the cup expect a Tart Tatin. Sharp green apple acidity balances sweet caramel and pastry in a delicious dessert like hit. As it finishes, you get a shoulder of dark chocolate and then a super interesting aftertaste which reminds me of redcurrant.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Acatenango
  • Producers: Raul Pérez and family
  • Farm: Finca La Soledad
  • Altitude: 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals grown: Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon, Typica, and Pache
  • Fermentation method: Cold
  • Fermentation time: 90 hours
  • Processing method: Washed


Tart Tatin, green apple, caramel, pastry, dark chocolate, redcurrant.

Clean cup (1–8): 6
Sweetness (1–8): 6
Acidity (1–8): 7
Mouthfeel (1–8): 6
Flavour (1–8): 7
Aftertaste (1–8): 7
Balance (1–8): 6
Overall (1–8): 6
Correction (+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 87

Roast Information
Medium dark - straight through first crack and slow it down a little before dropping just as you reach second crack.