Hacienda Monte Cristo Estate is a family-run, coffee-producing farm since 1916 in Western Honduras, very close to the borders of Guatemala. The farm lies in the fertile valleys of the Mayan Mountains. It is 15km from the provincial capital of Santa Rosa de Copan, in the municipality of Veracruz. The Medina family have been running this farm for over five generations!
Coffee here is meticulously grown using environmentally friendly practices and a lot of care is taken during the milling and drying processes. To facilitate this, the farm has increased its solar drying area to accommodate larger volumes while maintaining quality control.
This lot is mechanically pulped, leaving around 4.5% of mucilage (sticky fruit). It is fermented anaerobically, then washed and rinsed. The coffee is then dried on patios for 40 hours, then on elevated beds for 7-15 days, and finally machine dried for 25 hours.
About the Mountain Water Process
This lot was decaffeinated at the Descamex factory in Mexico. Descamex uses processes free of any chemicals. Coffee processed in this plant is organic and processed with the mountain waters that flow from the tip of Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. Each batch of green coffee is soaked in water until the soluble components seep out of the beans. The caffeine-extracted fluid is passed through a filter that extracts the caffeine from this solution. The coffee to be decaffeinated is then rehydrated and placed in the tank under optimal temperatures, vacuum, and pressures for the caffeine to be extracted. This solution then combines the crystal-clear waters of Pico de Orizaba and imparts the flavour and top notes that identify a coffee and its origin. After the extraction, the beans are triple-dried before being polished and physically and chemically analysed for remaining caffeine.
Decaffeinated coffee from Descamex reads between 0.020% to a maximum of 0.10%(g/100g) or about 99.9% caffeine free.
About La Fantasia Producer Guillermo Hormaza and his wife Elsa inherited the family farm La Fantasia from Elsa’s parents, and they bought the remaining rights from her siblings to have sole ownership. For over 15 years, Guillermo and Elsa have cultivated coffee, but it has only been in the last few years that they have worked to produce specialty grade coffee. After noticing the price differences compared to the expenses involved in producing coffee, Guillermo found that La Fantasia’s harvests were unprofitable in the commodity market, and this sparked the need for change.
Since 2019, Guillermo and Elsa have worked exclusively with Project Origin. They have worked smart and hard to adjust their processing and harvesting techniques, such as only picking cherries when ripe, adjusting the soil fertilisation, and pulping on the same day as picking. These small differences have made big changes to their quality.
Project Origin’s aim is to work with La Fantasia to build together a sustainable model farm, that could in the future be replicated to other farms throughout the region. This work involves PO buying 100% of the coffee La Fantasia produces. They work with 65% of their total production as their Regional La Fantasia lot and use the remaining harvest towards creating controlled fermentation coffees, including their new carbonic maceration processed decaf offering. They are proud to offer these controlled fermentation coffees in conjunction with the trusted regional offering, and believe this approach could help them build an economically sustainable future for Guillermo, Elsa and La Fantasia.
About the Water-Natural Ethyl Acetate Method
The Water-Natural Ethyl Acetate method of decaffeinating coffee beans utilises fresh spring water and ethyl acetate, which is a natural by-product of sugar cane and is sourced by the local sugar cane industry. In the natural environment, ethyl acetate is already present in coffee beans as well as many fruits and vegetables. In fact, a ripe banana contains 20 times more ethyl acetate than this decaf coffee. Once coffee beans are roasted beyond 70C, all residual ethyl acetate is evaporated.
The residual caffeine that remains following this decaffeination process is a maximum of 0.1% and the moisture content of the beans are restored to a maximum of 12%. The Water-Natural Ethyl Acetate process allows for a gentle caffeine extraction and avoids excessive heat and pressure, and this allows the coffee to retain the natural structure of the coffee bean cells.