We’re starting something new called October Highlight. As part of International Coffee Day, we’ll select a unique lot each year to shine a light on producers, relationships and note-worthy developments in our supply chain.
Since our start in 2008, Costa Rica was a big focus for us. Working closely with exporters Exclusive Coffees for over ten years, we’ve used coffees from micro-mills across this supply chain in everything – from Red Brick to tiny, special process micro-lots. Over the years, some of these coffees have become synonymous with our offering, and we look forward to having them back year on year.
NOTES FROM JAMIE, OUR GREEN BUYER, ON WHAT MAKES COSTA RICAN COFFEE PRODUCTION UNIQUE
Costa Rica is a uniquely developed coffee culture in Central America. Paved roads make movement much easier, and most of the producers we visited were middle-class entrepreneurs running a family business. Here are a few other things that make coffee production here stand out.
- The prevalence of honey-processed coffee is due to laws on reintroducing coffee wastewater to the water table. Most coffees are mechanically de-mucilaged and then simply not washed with extra water. Some producers with access to more water/rights and equipment can produce fully washed coffees. Examples of these in this year’s offering would be El Dama from Los Cuarteles.
- The “colour” of a honey process is NOT ONLY about how much fruit is left on, but a mix of factors that create a different microbial mix, causing golden, red, or black colouring on the parchment and corresponding to more funky-fruity flavours. White honey is simply de-mucilaged coffee that dries clean.
- Most micro-millers in Costa Rica actually have their own dry milling equipment and mechanical dryers. Many of them hull (but not sort) their coffee so it can just be transported in its lighter, greener form and sorted before export.
MACHO RESTED YELLOW HONEY
A Square Mile classic, most of you are familiar with the delicious honey-processed coffees produced by Efrain “Macho” Naranjo, his son Kevin and their Santa Rosa 1900 Micro-Mill. We’ve been purchasing coffee from them for as long as we can remember, making it the perfect coffee to feature as our first October Highlight.
Some of you might also remember last year’s International Coffee Day showcase from one of Macho’s farms, Evangelista. Processed in a contemporary style known as “cherry rested”, where cherries are rested in tanks for 2-3 days before being de-mucilaged, then dried. The extra rest allows for a carbonic maceration effect, amplifying the tartaric acidity while developing a more grapey-winey flavour in the cup. And this year, we selected a rested yellow honey lot grown on the farm named after its owner, Macho. Elegant and sweet like nectar, there are a million reasons to celebrate this rewarding and classic coffee!
Over the last few years, we’ve seen Kevin take over the management of the mill as well as their 4 family farms. Having worked for a short time as a barista, and like other great producers, Kevin cups all of his coffee and knows the profiles from different parts of each farm very well. And with his know-how and a keen eye for detail and precision, Santa Rosa 1900’s drying protocols are exemplary.
Kevin and his team have noticed that even within an area smaller than the size of a football pitch, lots will dry at different speeds because part of the plot gets intermittent shade from tall trees planted down the valley while others get direct sunlight all day. They’ve even noticed differences within the same table (about 1×1 metres) and adjusted their protocol accordingly. Based on their in-depth knowledge of the variance within even this tiny area, they carefully choose which lots will be dried where and adjust the number of times the coffee is turned so the coffee dries evenly.
BUY SOME HERE