Introduction by Chris Kornman
We’re closing shop on 2015-2016 harvest cycle Central American Crown Jewel coffees this week, but not before going out with a bang. Two late arrival Costa Rican gems landed recently and we’re super thrilled to bring them to market.
This immaculate offering is grown on a farm in San Marcos de Tarrazú called El Alto – an apropos name as the trees are planted at around 1,700 meters above sea level. Rolando Esquivel, the owner of the farm and micro mill, is a third generation coffee professional. His grandfather purchased the land at the foot of a mountain called Cerro la Cruz in the Tarrazú cantón (district) of the San Jose province in west-central Costa Rica. The wet mill is named for the mountain, in honor of the patriarch’s legacy.
Once picked, this 100% Catuaí lot was pulped and then dried in the sun with a minimal amount of mucilage remaining. Honey processing has taken on increased levels of refinement in recent years, and the varying degrees of fruit left on the parchment after pulping are referred to frequently in terms of color – white and yellow honeys have relatively little mucilage remaining, while red and to a greater degree black honeys allow much of the pulp to remain on the seed.
The result, in the case of this white honey, is immense cleanliness and good sweetness with a little stone fruit flavor but otherwise relatively little evidence of the increased contact time with the fruit. It tastes almost like a fully washed coffee… except that the coffee was not isolated for a formal fermentation stage, and it didn’t pass through grading channels, thereby reducing both the time and water used to process it.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
A very clean and precisely dried lot, this Catuaí coffee is quite dense. All of this points to a coffee that should have great shelf stability even as it approaches a long time after harvest. It continues to taste as fresh as it did when we first sampled it. The size grading falls just about 5% shy of qualifying as European prep.
Catuaí is a dwarf variety with copious proliferation throughout the Americas. Originating from a hybridization of Caturra (a naturally occurring dwarf Bourbon mutation) and Mundo Novo (a spontaneously occurring Bourbon and Typica hybrid) in Brazil, the Catuaí trees are resistant to wind and rain, relatively high yielding, can be planted more closely together than larger cultivars, and require some precision in fertilization to achieve proper productivity.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
Clean, Sweet, and straight-forward, this high density, low moisture coffee cracked relatively early in the drum on both roasts. Both roast curves follow a similar profile with the second roast, PR-424, extending the overall time by 25 seconds and an increase in end temperature of 4.8 °F. PR-423 had a mild citrus acidity with notes of pear, apple and cocoa powder, while PR-424 displayed a bit more depth and character with some bitter florals, dark chocolate, and english toffee. A very sweet and juicy coffee that was easy to roast and has a tremendous amount of flexibility in the drum.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
We brewed this Costa Rica honey on our Bonavita brewers and were surprised to find that our slight but unanimous preference on the cupping table did not carry over to the brew, possibly in part due to some differences in the way the two coffees extracted. While we liked the mild malic acidity and apple-juice like flavors of PR-424 during cupping, the brew of PR-423 offered more sweetness and rich plum-like flavors. Ultimately, the differences weren’t huge as the coffee is sweet and clean with what I like to call “high chuggability.” It’s unchallenging and easy to drink a cup or two while working at your desk or chatting with a friend about something entirely unrelated to coffee.
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.