The Flavor of Roya?

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Postby Jnanderson » Tue May 28, 2013 7:07 am

It is no new news that Roya is having and will continue to have a major impact on our businesses.

As we continue to receive samples from Central America I can't help but wonder do I taste the "flavor" of Roya in a very literal sense? Or, do I taste the outcome of producers and millers struggling to meet volume commitments because of the damage Roya has caused?

Does Roya have a Flavor??

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Postby daphid » Wed May 29, 2013 10:40 am

Hey Jake,

My understanding is that the roya fungus affects leaves, not the fruit itself. So does roya directly affect flavor of coffee? I don't believe so. Indirectly, however, you bet roya has a flavor. Fear of losing fruit before it ripens spurred farmers to pick massive amounts of green cherry, sacrificing body, sweetness, acidity, character. I've seen a higher than usual percentage of lower-density coffee blended in, so roasts can be uneven; you might find low-grown notes and maybe some quaker in a coffee that would have been much nicer a year or two ago.

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Postby Colleen Anunu » Thu May 30, 2013 8:52 am


The flavor of Coffee Leaf Rust may very well be 'unripe'. Even with samples of lots for which producers have sworn to have only picked ripe fruit, I've found the cup profile unripe/immature/not very sweet or dynamic. My guess is that this cup profile occurs because plants are unable to photosynthesize due to the decay of leaves, and therefore sugars in the fruit are not abundant... even though the exterior of the coffee cherry is that blood red or burgundy color.

The course material for GE 255 Organic Acids & the Chemistry of Coffee indicates that sugars are a by-product of photosynthesis, and these sugars (and other photosynthates) are needed for cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is what produces those acid profiles that are so sought after. That's the connection there.

Of course, for those producers that did spray Alto Cien fungicide, or maybe even a more biodynamic option, during the ripening and harvesting stage (rather than earlier in the year or waiting until harvesting was completed), I wonder how residue on the cherry potentially affected water and fermentation throughout the post-harvest processing stages and perhaps made its way into the cup. Most of the producers I spoke with advised against that practice, and some speculated that whether residue would have any effect at all. Anyway... another potential 'flavor' of Coffee Leaf Rust.
Colleen Anunu, Enthusiasm Repair Specialist
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Postby Jnanderson » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:07 am

I think the situation we are seeing is similar to what Colleen is describing. As far as picking the cherry, our producers have reported to not have changed what they typically do. On the cupping table I would also describe the coffee as lacking sweetness and intensity.

When these types of coffees hit your cupping table how are you scoring them and moreover what sort of message are you conveying back to your producer partners?

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