The day our latest Colombia Nariño arrived, we reached out to Gabriel Boscana at Máquina Coffee Roasters about spending some time with it. Gabe got started in coffee at Gimme! Coffee in New York, learned to roast at Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco and spent time at Intelligentsia and Sightglass before launching Máquina in a suburb of Philadelphia. For so many good reasons, Gabe is an enormously respected roaster. So when we got the response, “I am way down to do that!” we were excited for the outcome. What follows is Gabe’s response.
This coffee is delicious. It’s a sturdy bean, dense and needs lots of energy in the beginning, due to the density.
Big fruit, citrus, caramel, chocolate, slick body. This is the kind of cup that anyone could enjoy, regardless of their level of coffee expertise.
I did three batches on my vintage ’90s Probat L5 in my garage and they were all great. But certainly, the difference was obvious in the cupping and brewing.
Typically, what I do the first time is make sure I have the ideal batch size, which for the machine I roast on I have decided is 8.5 lbs. of green coffee. I could do 9, but 8.5 seems to be the sweet spot for development.
“I let the coffee tell me what it wants to do, instead of forcing it into some profile I want it to follow.”
On the first batch I had a very low-charge ambient temperature, but I had the gas on full blast. I roast with propane, which is three times denser than natural gas, so you get a lot more energy with propane than you do with natural gas. This means I can really lower the charge temperature because I know I will gain that momentum very quickly with propane. I let the coffee tell me what it wants to do, instead of forcing it into some profile I want it to follow. This is how I get to know a coffee. I simply react to it as I roast it and take notes (both physical and mental) to remind me of the process.
So, the first batch: 250F degree charge temp (SUPER LOW) but the gas was on full blast from the moment the entire batch was in the drum.
At 6:00 minutes it went to 300F and started to yellow (buttery smell) and right on target at minute 7:40 I hit first crack. I count first crack when all of the beans are in unison cracking and popping, not literal first crack. I don’t count literal first crack because it may be a one-off, and I want the entire mass to be exothermic before I make any changes to the heat application. I then took the gas to half.
At 8:15 I shut the gas off entirely and let the coffee ride it out. And around 8:45 I dropped it from the roaster. I noticed it took off after first crack, which to me says I might have gone too hard too soon, and so the bean absorbed all that momentum and was still working through it when I shut off the gas.
This batch was actually the best-tasting batch. It was full bodied, big, chocolate, red fruit and citrus and caramel notes. It has the longest finish of all the batches. Usually, the batch that I let the coffee guide me on works out to be the batch I end up using as the main profile.
The other batches I did were more prolonged. Higher charge temps, longer overall times and a more “gentle” approach, and though the coffees tasted fine, none of them had the complexity of that first batch. This makes sense, though, because most Colombias that I have roasted need a lot more initial heat in the beginning.
Overall, I was super happy with this coffee. It would be a great espresso, too. •