Huh? Flores? Flores is one of the big islands in the Lesser Sunda archipelago situated in the Indian Ocean. Nearby are Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi. Flores is one of the lesser Sunda Islands in the provence of East Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia. Roughly the acreage of Connecticut rolled out long and skinny from east to west. On our map, look just above the T in Timor. Thats Flores. The island was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the early 16th century, when they landed on a small peninsula in the east and called it “Cabo de Flores” because of the incredible coral formations ringing the island. Recently, there was the discovery of three-foot tall Homo Erectus skeletons and miniaturized elephant fossils dating back about 15,000 years. The island is also home to gigantic rats and Komodo dragons, not to mention massive saltwater crocodiles...Good times. So maybe you have heard of Flores but didn't realize it. The most significant reason you've never heard of Flores coffee before is because prior to 2005 it was awful. Prior to 2005, all the coffee in Flores was dry-processed, blended and sold to exporters where quality wasn't a big part of the equation. The cherries were simply dried on the ground and the farmers had little financial incentive to do more than that. In 2005, however, the Indonesia Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (the ICCRI) spearheaded by a man named Sirup, began processing the coffee using the fully-washed method. Wet Hulling (Gishing Basha in Indonesian) brings up more body and sweetness to the coffee, making it less wild than full naturals. Unfortunately, conditions are very dry in Flores during the harvest season. Under normal climate conditions the coffee harvesting period begins in May or early June. Harvesting is usually wrapped up by September or early October. Logistics is a big issue when it comes to developing coffee quality in a region, especially in Flores. There's nature, the terroir, and there's nurture; what do you do with the basic elements to make a winning product? On one hand Giling Basah makes all the difference, but, the primary fresh water source for the island during this driest time of year comes only from a natural spring and has to be taken to the trees by small pipes or by truck. The discovery is that it makes a huge difference in the quality of the coffee, but the question becomes whether its economically sustainable. So here we are on the leading edge. A whole new specialty coffee being developed and we get to witness the transformation from a commodity coffee to possibly a recognized origin. The main cultivars on the island planted a hundred and fifty years back thanks to the Dutch. ( man, those guys were everywhere...) are Caturra, Catuai and in the 1950's Linie S795 was widely planted and is generally dominant now. "Linie" is Dutch for line, and S is short for "selection." S795 can be traced back through India to the original coffee trees first found in Ethiopia. While S795 grows well in Flores the farmers there are underwhelmed by the small size of the beans and limited yield. (but remember, they've been all about quantity until very recently.) 150 years of naturally occurring hybrids plus another half century of cross breeding on the island makes for a completely unique crop when treated as a Specialty Coffee. The total area under coffee cultivation in Ngada Distirct is around 6000 hectares, of which 90% is Arabica. Arabica coffee is grown at altitudes ranging from 1,200 m to 1.600 m above sea level. Fertilizer inputs have almost never been applied by the farmers, other than organic manure and composting. Bajawa is both an ethnic group and a small town. The Bajawa ethnic group mainly inhabits the eastern part of the central highlands, in Ngada District, on the slopes of the Inerie volcano (2,245 m). The total population of this area is around 100,000 people, most of whom are Catholic due to Portuguese, and later Dutch, colonization. This year, 5 more farmer groups (Ateriji, Papataki, Papawiu, Mezamogo, and Wongawali) have decided to undertake wet-processing and all seven groups are now certified organic through the Control Union Certification (USDA-NOP and EU2092/91). Giling Basah processing begins by removing the outer skin of the cherries via pulping machine in the afternoon on the day they are delivered. The pulped coffee, still covered in sticky mucilage, is then put into fermentation tanks for 36 hours and is a critical new step, After washing, the clean parchment is fully sun-dried on raised tables Final hand sorting is typically done by the exporter. This washing and sorting is where education in business becomes a major factor in developing Flores as a destination in Specialty Coffee. As more of the crops are being treated with care its possible that the price for the commodity coffee crop could begin to rise- and that's where the farmers must be shown that continuing the work can bring greater long term rewards. Its a 180 degree shift in mindset from producing as much as possible to producing the highest quality possible. The size and shape of the beans really do have a similarity to North African coffees, like an Yrgecheffe, but the color is the distinctly deeper tone that you know from other Indonesian coffees. The beans are smooth, shiny, and polished looking with no trace at all of insect or other damage. While the beans are all over the place in size and shape, including peaberries, there are zero broken, chipped or damaged beans visible in a small sample. In the cup you could almost mistake it for a medium bodied Costa Rica/Guatemala of some sort. It's smooth with a whisper of a light/rich wood tone. The deeper qualities you see in a classic Sumatra don't really begin to become present before you reach a darker roast. At first roasting, as the moisture comes off there's a distinct Indonesian smell that fades, then returns as a nice sharpness as the roast continues past second crack. The dry grounds have an elusive sweet chocolate/ brownie batter aroma, again the thought of a sweet Guatemala comes up sans flowers, but doesn't come through in the end as chocolate so much as a presence of rich wood with some vanilla. Currently running heavier in body than prior years. Fruit/aromatIc/wood, subtle mandarin.
|Origin||Indonesia, PNG, Hawaii|
|Farmer||Many individuals/ Cooperatives|
|Region||Flores is one of the big islands in the Lesser Sunda archipelago|
|Coffee growing area||6000 hectares around the provence of East Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia|
|Processing system||Wet processed, fully sun-dried on raised tables|
|Variety||Caturra, Catuai and Linie S795|
|Practices||Fertilizer inputs have almost never been applied by the farmers, other than organic manure and composting.|
Best of the bunch Review by Sciguy
Body Sweetness Acidity Balance/Harmony Aftertaste
This was the one of eight sample bags that came with my Christmas Freshroast that didn't make its way to the trash by the third trial. This really is awesome roasted without special rituals (medium heat, high fan, 5.9 minutes, walk away). As to the claim in the sales pitch, these are the ugliest, multi shaped multi colored misshapen and broken motley beans I've roasted in 15 years. And also among the best tasting. I do agree with the comparison to Guatemalan or perhaps Panamanian beans. (Posted on 4/2/2016)
A new favorite bean! Review by Glenn
Body Sweetness Acidity Balance/Harmony Aftertaste
First thing I noticed is the unusually aromatic scent these beans give off shortly after roasting. Like most, they take 2-3 days after roasting to reach peak flavor. A full-bodied cup, with rich flavors of dark chocolate, wood (especially oak), a hint of brown sugar and black plum skin -- yet for all those strong-sounding flavors, it's a wonderfully smooth, creamy cup. Most notable to me is the extremely long finish... lingers for many minutes. Yum!
For us, not a blending bean. Too delicious on its own.
These beans start reaching peak flavor about 2-3 days after roasting. Delicious anywhere from CITY to FRENCH ROAST... personally, I like them best when roasted just through 2nd crack. Minimal chaff.
FYI - HOW I ROAST (REGARDLESS OF BEAN):
I always roast 4 scoops of beans in the terrific FreshRoast SR-500. (Units may vary a bit, but that amount works best in both of mine.) I start at low heat / high fan, increasing heat and eventually lowering fan during roast, depending on bean. TIP: I usually give the roasting chamber a few quick shakes at the 1- and 2-minute marks, to prevent any charred pits from forming on the beans at the bottom before they start circulating. (Holding the lid with one hand and chamber handle in the other.) (Posted on 3/30/2015)
Delicious. My new favorite Review by CoffeeNewbie
Sweetness Acidity Balance/Harmony Aftertaste Body
I'm fairly new to roasting. Ordered a Behmor and went through my first 8 lbs of coffees. I liked all of them but was not thrilled. Ordered this Flores using my birthday discount (thank you Coffee Project!), and love it. It's a good, strong coffee, without the earthy acridity that makes me dislike Sumatrans. I roast it so 2nd crack starts just as the Behmor starts its cooling cycle, and brew it in a French Press. Pure coffee happiness. (Posted on 11/18/2012)