Keep reading for the full Funka story.
We started working with La Marianela in 2013 and are proud to call this pioneering father and son team, Hernan and Pablo Dorronsoro our friends. Hernan, a skilled agronomist bought the farm in the 1980s and has been producing incredible coffee ever since.
The farm is run with the utmost care for coffee, the environment, and it’s workers. Areas of the farm are treated as a nature reserve protecting natural forest and wildlife, workers are provided housing and the shade-grown coffee goes through meticulous quality control at every stage.
We visit the farm, most years and have been able to work closely with Hernan and Pablo on exclusive varietals, lots and processing methods. Like this kiln-dried natural coffee.
Dave, Marc & Chris with Hernan, Pablo and Valentina on their trip in 2018
Naturally processed coffees, when the skin & fruit is of the cherry is left to dry & ferment around the bean, are a rarity in Colombia.
Four years ago we embarked on a series of experimental lots with Hernan’s son, Pablo to create a natural-process coffee.
We shared our knowledge of processing methods and flavour profiles, Pablo and Hernan brought their knowledge of varietals, agronomy. We shared the risk, guaranteeing the lot whatever the outcome and together we created La Marianela’s first kiln-dried natural.
Three harvests later and the coffee just keeps getting better. Since the initial lot three years ago, modifications have been made to the process.
Skilled pickers pick the ripest cherries by hand. These are fermented in fermentation tanks then transported to the kiln to begin the drying process. Time and temperature are carefully monitored to avoid over fermentation.
A submersible water pump now transports the coffee to the kiln, making the work quicker and easier for Pablo’s workers. In this process, cherries are sorted by density selection rather than by hand.
La Marianela has had bumper harvests over the past few years so efficiencies like these make a huge difference to the workers and the yield overall. The kiln has also been modified to improve airflow and efficiency.
We’re delighted to have this fruity, funky coffee as this year’s Unkle Funka.
Coffees are grown as cherries, the beans are the seeds at the centre.
Ripe red and yellow cherries are picked and sorted and then need to be processed.
A washed coffee is pulped to remove the skin and then washed to remove the sticky fruit or mucilage of the cherry. The result is a clean and bright coffee.
In the natural process, the skin and fruit of the cherry are left to dry on the cherry. In the case of Unkle Funka, this is done first in fermentation tanks and then in a kiln. Once dried, the coffee cherries are dry-milled to remove the pulp ad then graded.
As the fruit ferments it imparts extra sweetness and boozy fruit flavours into the coffee. These complex and interesting flavours are sought after by the speciality coffee market. Importers and roasters are willing to pay more for them.
Processing coffee in this way is not without its risks. If the coffee over ferments in the tanks or the kiln the whole batch could be lost.
However, this risk comes with a payoff, an amazing tasting, high-quality coffee which means the Dorronsoro family can sell their coffee at a higher fixed price.
At a time when the market price for coffee is lower than the cost of production, not to mention the impact of coronavirus (the first case in this region was recorded just weeks before the coffee harvest), higher-earning initiatives like this are a necessity for the farm and their workers and families.
As anyone who has smelt un-roasted natural coffee will tell you – it really does smell funky.
Since 2012, Unkle Funka has been a celebration of funky music and funky coffees. Each year we’ve set ourselves a challenge to find the funkiest natural-process coffee we can and to turn it into a fruity, funky espresso.
For us, it’s an opportunity to showcase how delicious naturally processed coffees can be, and to tell the stories of innovation and collaboration with coffee farmers, which goes into producing these coffees.
We wanted a nod to La Marianela, one of our oldest coffee partners and a family business, bought by Hernan in the 1980s.
After seven years of 70s funk, stepping into the 80s with this super-funky, synthsy, fruity espresso was an exciting step forwards, inspired by Miami Vice, 80s funk and cocktails on the beach.
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