El Carmen Decaf
sugarcane, raspberry, milkchocolate
This is a very tasty decaffeinated coffee, with notes of sugar cane, raspberry framboise, and milk chocolate. It also represents one way to invest in growers who have recently struggled.
We sourced this coffee through our friends at Raw Material, who are a non-profit returning surplus payments to producers.
Despite good production levels at El Carmen, income from coffee recently dropped to unsustainable levels. Producers across Colombia faced a crossroad: either find alternative means of income, or find a more sustainable market. Those choosing the second option faced two core constraints in a lack of key infrastructure to produce quality coffee, and access to stable prices in return. Together, Raw Material and El Carmen overcame both of these challenges. Raw Material helped build drying bed facilities and QC infrastructure at the community central hub. A new payment system helped provide stable prices at more than 2.5 times the average household income when compared to previous seasons. El Carmen provides stable and sustainable prices for a producer through a connection to the specialty market, improved quality control, and shared knowledge across the value chain.
Sugar cane decaffeination is considered a natural process, since Ethyl Acetate is an organically existing compound (C4H8O2) found most commonly in the fermentation of fruits. It is present in both ripe bananas and beer for example. The decaffeination plant we work with in Colombia uses water from the Navado el Ruis (a volcano between Caldas and Tolima) and natural ethyl acetate from fermented sugarcane sourced in the southern region of Palmira, Colombia. This process begins by steaming the coffee, increasing its porosity, beginning the hydrolysis of caffeine, which is usually bonded to salts and chlorogenic acid in the bean. The beans are then submerged in an ethyl acetate solvent until 97% of the caffeine is removed. A final steam is then used to lift residual traces of the compound. The ultimate residue which remains is less than 30 ppm, which is a level dramatically less than that of a banana!