35706 – Costa Rica Cereza Roja 100% Fully Ripes SHB GrainPro is sourced from CoopeTarrazú R.L., a 3200-member cooperative based in San Marcos de Tarrazú. The cooperative dates back to 1960, but reorganized as recently as 2004 to include low interest loans and healthcare to its members.
The idea of advertising 100% fully ripe coffee might seem a little silly at first; after all isn’t that one of the pillars of specialty coffee in the first place? You’d be surprised, however, at the challenge that fully ripened picking presents for farmers and especially cooperatives. Unlike a bunch of grapes, coffee does not ripen simultaneously on the branch. This means that the harvest, typically lasting 2-3 months in most places, requires multiple passes from laborers to pick all the fruit off of the trees. Incentivising ripe picking can be difficult for the low-wage workers, who are often paid by volume.
Especially notable in Costa Rica are the effects of the country’s politics on the way these cooperatives operate. So long as a coffee delivery from a farmer is not rejectable for defects, the cooperative must pay each farmer the same amount – no real opportunity to reward the farmer up front for good quality delivery exists. As such, many Costa Rican coffees inherently contain some underripe coffee. The commitment to deliver a product that only contains the ripe cherries is a risky one, but one that cooperatives like CoopeTarrazú R.L. understand is worth taking for the kinds of customers who are looking for the highest quality.
Another great example of a cleanly prepped Central American coffee, 35706 – Costa Rica Cereza Roja 100% Fully Ripes SHB GrainPro is roughly 90% screen 16 and up with a relatively high density and solid looking moisture content. The water activity is a little higher than anticipated in relation to the moisture level, but nothing that indicates any sort of problematic handling or shelf expectancy.
This coffee responded pretty well to minimal adjustments with a slightly higher than normal initial gas setting. In the moments anticipating first crack, I made a slight reduction in gas, and the coffee coasted smoothly through. It’s likely that this roast could’ve been just as nice if taken a little darker; the coffee seemed a little resistant to caramelization after crack.