This beautiful coffee comes to us from Finca Maracay in Quindio, nestled in the western end of the Andes mountains, and smack dab in the middle of the Colombian coffee growing region, known as “Eje Cafetero” or the Colombian “Coffee Axis”. As well as Quindio, this area encompases Caldas, Risaralda and Tolima and accounts for the majority of Colombia’s coffee growing and production.
Up until 2016, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation had banned the export of anything other than washed coffees, prioritising clean, balanced coffees with the largest possible yield. Gradually, as farmers began to produce higher quality coffee, the Federation eased its strict guidelines. This game changing decision allowed for amazing ingenuity, creativity, and experimentation from Colombian producers, which (big win for us!) has resulted in some truly delightful coffee in our cups.
Finca Maracay sits at 1400 masl, and has been owned by the Arcila family since 1990. The care which goes into this coffee is unparalleled. The cherries are picked with very strict parameters for ripeness, and are then floated, where any underdeveloped cherries will rise to the top of the water to be scooped out. They are placed in grainpro bags for 24 hours, then pulped and fermented with the mucilage intact for another 24 hours. Finally the coffee is washed and left to dry on raised beds.
This labour intensive process is overseen by Luz Helena, the matriarch of the Arcila family, and the namesake of this smooth and tangy coffee. Luz Helena is an impressive and (I believe) inspiring figure in the world of Colombian agriculture, and part of a rich legacy of coffee producers. Her husband, Jairo Arcila, is a third generation coffee grower, and her sons Carlos and Felipe are the co-founders of Cofinet!
Luz Helena has been growing coffee for over 30 years, and is a lifelong advocate for Colombian grown coffee. She is recognised as an extremely talented farmer and as a strong, resourceful leader. She has a particular talent for managing people, and a wealth of agricultural knowledge. Not content to stop at coffee, she also manages farms growing oranges and avocados. A combo which to me means only one thing: brunch.
I realise this is an incredibly cliché “Melbourne millennial coffee hipster” thing to say, but I simply cannot help myself. Big, family brunches have been a staple for me and my housemates throughout the many (many, many…) Melbourne lockdowns. My partner has an incredible knack for throwing together whatever ingredients we have and creating THE! MOST! mind blowing breakfasts I have ever eaten. My housemates are handy for good company and a good playlist, and I... am in charge of the bevs.
Lately I have gotten in the habit of brewing coffee in the biggest possible batches, suitable for sharing with everyone around our humble kitchen table. I am especially excited to share with them the Luz Helena Salazar, both for its incredible smoothness, and for the opportunity to show off my brewing skills.
This coffee is as comforting as sunshine lazily beaming through the curtains on a Sunday morning. I really love how the darker sticky caramel and toffee notes are complemented by sweet, bright apricot and sparkling mandarin acidity. It has a decadent, creamy hazelnut profile, and a silky smooth texture. Sounds like the kind of brekky I want to be invited to.
In the spirit of a soul nourishing brunch, I have chosen to create a Chemex recipe that’s ideal for sharing to show off this beautiful brew. If you’re having a solo cuppa, you can use the ratio of 1:16 to use with any filter brewer.
● 37.5g of Colombia Luz Helena, medium grind
● 600g of 97 degree water
● 6 cup Chemex
● Chemex 6 cup filter
● A stirrer or spoon
● A gooseneck kettle
Place your paper filter into the chemex with the thickest side towards the spout, and rinse with hot water. This will get rid of any paper-y taste from the filter, and preheat your chemex. If you’re feeling fancy you can preheat your cups too. Discard the water.
Add your ground coffee into the filter, and give the Chemex a light tap to even out the coffee bed.
Start your timer, and pour 80g of water into the centre of the coffee, then in a circular motion, making sure all the coffee grounds are wet. Use your stirrer to gently agitate the coffee grounds, and allow to bloom for 30 seconds.
Slowly pour the remaining water in a slow, controlled clockwise motion. When you have finished pouring, use your stirrer to lightly stir the coffee grinds in the same direction.
When the water is about halfway down the filter, give the Chemex a slow swirl.
This brew should take between 5 and 5:30 minutes. Discard the paper filter, and share amongst your many admirers- erh I mean housemates.
Domestic espresso recipe (using a Breville Bambino)
On the Slayer LP we use 22g of coffee and aim for a yield of 38g, however your machine and set up will determine what dose (and therefore, yield) you should aim for. Some domestic machines have 20-22g baskets, however some will only be able to hold 16-18g. Use the ratio to adjust the espresso recipe.
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