Crafting COA de Jima Tequila
COA de Jima Tequila is the result of the time-honored process of crafting quality tequila. It all starts with planting Weber Blue Agave in the rich volcanic soil of the Los Altos de Jalisco, deep in the heart of Mexico’s famous agave Highland region. The agave matures for seven years under the blazing Mexican sun. Intense and unique flavor begins long before the tequila is bottled. Learn more about how COA de Jima is created.
The Weber Blue Agave plant is COA de Jima’s genesis. Experienced and passionate farmers (jimadors) pay meticulous attention to the agave as the plants mature in the deep red soil. Generations of jimadors pass along detailed knowledge of how to properly harvest agave and make the best tequila.
Letting the agave plants mature over an average of seven years means we can ultimately extract a plump and dense agave root (piña), which resembles a pineapple (indeed, piña is Spanish word for pineapple), once it’s time for harvest (jima). But the piñas must be harvested at just the right time. Too soon and the natural sugars will not have reached perfection. Too late, and the agave plant will use its sugar to grow a quiote, a tall 30-foot stem, and go to seed.
The dark red soil provides a colorful contrast with the green, sharp agave leaves. The agave plantation, much like a vineyard, requires constant maintenance and careful farming.
Harvest (Jima) is the climax. Seven years of farming and nurturing leads up to this day. Expert jimadors (agave farmers) unearth and trim the agave’s heart (piña), which can weigh in at a hefty 40 to 70 pounds. The fat piñas are skillfully trimmed using a special razor-sharp hoe-like tool called a COA. The COA’s distinctive paddle shape is iconic in the Highlands’ region of Mexico and beyond.
Now you know the origin of our tequila’s namesake: COA de Jima!
Traditional jimador garb is a white cotton shirt and pants with the red sash and open-toed leather sandals. But these days most jimadors opt for more practical wear. A hard working and skilled jimador can harvest more than 1,500 pounds of piñas by hand each day!
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Shredding and Cooking
The heavy agave piñas are carried over to the next stage of the tequila making process: cooking. The piñas are sliced into quarters or halves and prepared for baking in modern ovens.
After the agave piñas are cooked they need to be shredded to help extract the juices (mosto). The finely shredded fiber strips are washed and cooked.
Traditional slow cooking methods are used to cook the piñas in a steam room oven at relatively low temperatures for 24-36 hours. This process ensures the agave’s precious sugars are preserved while teasing out the optimum flavors that characterize COA de Jima tequila.
A more modern technique is also used. Steam pressure cookers called autoclaves can cut the cooking time down to just 7 hours while still preserving all of the flavor qualities. Cooking the piñas softens them for the shredding process, and transforms the agave’s natural carbohydrates into simple sugars that will become essential during the tequila fermentation process.
The entire tequila making process is still very manual. Although automation and industrial farming techniques have advanced, tequila still requires the workers’ deep knowledge and careful touch.
Fermentation and Distillation
Natural sugars are transformed into alcohol during fermentation. Ethanol and other essential tequila elements are drawn out during fermentation. The initial fermentation yields an alcohol content between 5-7%. Coa de Jima fermentation is unique from the method most distilleries use because we do not use commercial yeast during this phase. Instead, we use our own yeast strain which was developed in partnership with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, one of Mexico’s most prestigious research and development centers. To ensure premium taste and quality, the special yeast is kept safe at both our distillery lab and at the university research center.
Tequila fermentation time varies based the weather. Winter takes slightly longer than summer, but tequila fermentation lasts about 52 hours. After fermentation the liquid (mosto) is carefully monitored for 12 hours until a perfect flavor profile is achieved.
The mosto is then moved to large steel stills (alambiques) where additional separation occurs, also known as rectification, and the alcohol content is intensified. Alcohol content typically reaches close to 55% during this phase.
COA de Jima tequila is produced in a distillery that uses consistent and closely-monitored systems that produce the best tequila in the world. You, our beloved consumer, will enjoy the difference high quality tequila craftsmanship and pride can make.
Tequila is aged, but not for long. An aging process is typically no longer than a couple of years. Agave is the star of the process, not the oak flavor of the wooden barrel. COA de Jima tequila is aged in a dark, humid and cool cave 4 meters below ground level. Evaporation is reduced during the aging stage. COA de Jima tequila is arriving at its perfect maturity and almost ready for bottling.