About The Coffee Arlex Muñoz
Arlex is particularly interesting due to his treatment of this high quality raw material. Typically for Nariño, Arlex is based on a very steep mountainside, so the paths that give access to the farm are demanding at best, especially when carrying kilos of cherry during harvest. Arlex’s innovative solution to this is keep picked cherry uphill in the lot itself, tied up in the bags it is harvested into. When he has built up enough, he and a few workers drag a portable depulper into the field itself, depulping amongst the trees, before carrying the parchment coffee down to the fermentation tanks to continue a traditional washed process. Apart from easing workflow, this means that some of the cherry has begun to ferment in these sealed bags before depulping, some for up to four days, some for only a few hours. It was this varying degree of fermentation, and the depth and complexity it brings, which inspired the ‘fed-batch’ process that fellow LaREB members such as Ana Mustafá and Lizardo Herrera now use on their farms. A resourceful workflow solution that led to a jump in quality; beautiful mistakes like this are one of our favourite things about visiting origin and working closely with talented producers like Arlex. This year the lot is intense and syrupy, with crisp red fruit notes.
This lot by Arlex Muñoz is another sourced in collaboration with our friends from the LaREB collective. Arlex has been part of the collective for some time now, and was one of the first members from the Nariño region. He is part of the Comercio Café union run by Doña Esperanza Reyes and her family in the regional capital La Union. We are rather familiar with Comercio Café, having purchased several lots from here in the past, including this year from Lady Moncayo and Doña Esperanza herself. The union has shared quality control and agronomic services, helping local farmers to produce and sell high quality separated microlots. Nariño in general has plentiful very high altitude, and cool climates, leading to very slow ripening and dense coffee cherries. This carries through into intense concentrated flavours in the cup, with a high degree of clarity.
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade. The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.