overview

Overview 

This is an experimental anaerobically fermented and washed coffee from Alajuela, Costa Rica, produced by Carlos Fernández Morera and his family. 

The flavor profile is unique and complex, with prominent notes of gingerbread and baking spice like cinnamon, supported by bright fruity flavors of lemon and spiced apple cider. 

Our roasters found the coffee responded well to a long soak and drying phase and gentle application of heat. 

When brewed the coffee consistently impressed our baristas as full immersion, filtered pour-over, and as espresso.  

taste

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

The single most recognizable coffee I’ve ever encountered, Carlos Morera’s latest iteration of anaerobically fermented and washed coffee from his Diamante parcel on Finca El Cerro is just as boldly spiced and unequivocally show-stopping as it ever has been. Consistency from season to season has made this coffee more than just a one-hit-wonder. It is an annual feast for the senses. 

Even the green coffee is incredibly fragrant, and once roasted and ground the comparison to sweet cinnamon and gingerbread is unmistakable. Beyond the rich baking spice, elegant flavors of poached pear, hibiscus, spiced cider, and limoncello sweeten the experience and add depth and complexity. 

This is the kind of coffee you want to sip and share with friends. Anyone who’s ever tasted Morera’s Anaerobic El Diamante will tell you without wasting a breath that it’s a coffee experience unlike any other, and not to be missed. 

source

Source Analysis by Chris Kornman 

There’s so much about Carlos Fernández Morera’s coffee to discuss: farm and farmer history, processing methods, the prestige of a Cup of Excellence top 5 finish in 2017… but really the start of this conversation has to be about its flavor. It’s at once immensely unique, immediately delicious, and irrepressibly nostalgic. Undeniable notes of gingerbread and cinnamon toast are its hallmarks, eliciting nearly unanimous descriptors. These top notes are accented by a sugary sweetness and a fruitiness clean enough to integrate seamlessly and bold enough to stand out in a complex and thought-provoking sensory landscape. It’s an experience unlike anything I’ve had with a cup of coffee. 

Carlos Fernández Morera is an experienced farmer. This is his 65th season growing coffee in San Rafael de San Ramón, where his family has lived since 1895. His deep connection to his trees and the soil he works is evident in the way he talks. “Coffee is a very grateful crop,” he says. “If you dedicate a little love, it responds very well… The earth is a living element, we must take care of it, pamper it, so that it transmits to the coffee plant all its force.” Morera’s plot of earth is called Finca El Cerro. Many of his 4 grown children and 9 grandchildren help on the estate, his eldest works directly with administration, his youngest works for the export brand, Café de Altura, and his oldest grandson is an agronomist. 

The plot of the farm where this award-winning lot originates is called Diamante (“the Diamond”). It contains Caturra and Catuaí cultivars, though other varieties more resistant to rust have been planted in recent years in other areas of El Cerro. After pulping the coffee undergoes a sealed-tank anaerobic fermentation process (learn more about anaerobic and carbonic fermentation methods here). A selection of mucilage and a little water are added to the mix, and the slurry is closely monitored for pH, temperature, brix, and a host of other variables. Under a watchful eye, the high degree of environmental control this allows contributes immeasurably to the coffee’s flavor. Thereafter the lot is dried for 3 days on a patio before moving to raised beds for another eighteen days of drying. 

green

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Exquisite and immaculate green coffee by any standard, and that much more so knowing that this coffee from Carlos Morera is processed with an anaerobic fermentation – a technique which we often find can lead to some lightly discolored beans. 

In this case, the lovely, fragrant green is paired with high density and stable water activity and moisture numbers. That, along with a tight 16-18 screen distribution should give you plenty of confidence as a roaster that this coffee will keep well on your shelf and respond favorably to choices in roasting. 

diedrich ir-5

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis Doris Garrido 

Lately I have been roasting anaerobic coffees mostly from South America, and I was so thrilled to roast this one from Carlos Fernandez Morera, Costa Rica. I tasted a sample prior to my trial roast, and I knew that there was a great coffee right here, even just by looking at and smelling the green you will notice the quality. 

I had the luxury to have a practice roast, and the first thing I have learned from it is that I cannot treat this Costa Rica as if I was roasting another anaerobic coffee. I was used to starting a little hard during drying, using that energy during yellowing, and having great momentum at first crack. But not to this coffee. This Costa Rica would react better with a softer approach. In other words, I made some mistakes on my first trial roast and applied that knowledge on the second. 

My charge temperature of 402F and 70% gas after one minute resulted in a turning point of 180F / 1:31. From here I made probably the simplest gas movements to date: I let 70% gas run for 4 minutes and then dropped it to the lowest, 30%. Rate of rise was going great, lowering in a perfect pace until I added air at 360F. Then coffee started trying to run. My ideal is to hit first crack at <15/60 seconds of my rate of rise, but this coffee was releasing energy, not so much as to get out of control, but more than I was expecting. After a minute I killed the burners just with enough energy to finish the roast. 1:28 seconds of post crack development time and drop temperature of 396.9F. 

Overall, I would say that I got remarkable results from this roast on the cupping table: good sugar development, grilled peach, ripe fruits, honey, syrupy body, fruity, juice, berries, ginger. My failure roast on the other hand… I cannot say that it was bad! So here are the cupping notes: A little bitter in finish, airy brighter, brown sugar, Cinnamon, clean, honey, lemon, light, more nuanced, muted, nutty, raw sugar, sweet pulpy aroma thin body. This showed me a that great processing of coffee, from the coffee plantation to all the processing methods that the farmer has done, came through well even in my troubled roast. 

Aillio Bullet R1

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman 

Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.  

Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing! 

Seeing this spectacular coffee come back every year is a pleasure. Not only is it consistent from cup to cup, but the striking flavor we know and love is also present from year to year. Traditionally, this has been a difficult coffee for me to roast in an intentional manner, but knowing its history allowed me to predict a little of what might happen in the roaster, and sort of take it on a ‘play-by-play’ basis. 

For instance, I know that this coffee is always super dense, with a tight screen size distribution. The density lets me know that I can hit this coffee with plenty of heat at the start, but will need to back off the heat application later in roast so the coffee doesn’t ‘take off’ on its own. The screen sizes tell me that this coffee will take on heat more easily than beans of many different sizes mixed together in a batch, which may counter the effect of the density. Therefore, a balanced approach was necessary! 

To that end, I started with P8 power and F1 fan, then went totally off the rails to P9 power and F3 fan a little after turning point, really pushing this coffee hard through Green/Drying stage and wicking away as much moisture as possible. After a brief spate with the high heat application, I brought heat down to P7 at 300F, and increased fan speed to F4 a little afterwards. This was in an effort to draw out Maillard to at least be in proportion to Green/Drying. Anticipating the peak in RoR before First Crack, I lowered heat to P6… but also lowered fan speed to F2. I didn’t want to lose too much momentum after the remaining moisture was expressed at First Crack. Then it was back to F4 at 370F, and a further reduction of heat to P5 at 380F, just before First Crack. I kept these settings for the rest of the roast and allowed the coffee to roll slowly through post-crack development for 1:47, or 16% of the roast time for a final ratio of 40% / 42% / 16%.  

The result was just what I hoped for: to showcase the super cinnamon apple pie notes in this coffee. On the cupping table, we tasted just that, along with touches of honeysuckle, butterscotch, and aniseed. This coffee will transport you back to a cold winter day in July – so refreshing, and just a nostalgic trip in a cup. I highly recommend this coffee for any preparation, as long as you’re ready to step into another world.  

brew

Brew Analysis by MJ Smith 

This anaerobic coffee from Carlos Fernandez was very enthusiastically delivered to our brew bar here at The Crown for analysis, and I must say, it 100% lived up to the hype! I heard that this is Royal’s 6th year with this coffee, and I completely understand why. We’re going to be using this coffee on our espresso bar, so I started my analysis by pulling a few shots of it on our Linea PB, but I also wanted to see how it would act as a pour over, so I followed that up with a few different pour-over brews as well. We tried one brew on a V60, which brought out some enjoyable spicy and fruity notes, but I was curious to see how it would be if I increased the dose by a gram and threw it in our Clever Dripper. The results had all of our eyes popping wide open!  

Pulled on espresso, it was like taking a big sip of a winter holiday in July! Before it even touched my lips, my senses were warmed by the distinct aroma of fresh baked gingerbread from my grandmother’s oven, with a tasting experience that reminded me of my mom’s homemade cranberry sauce, chocolate mousse, and a refreshing after-dinner limoncello aperitif. I also made our newest barista Dion an oat milk cortado with this coffee, which he said was one of the smoothest cortados he’d ever had. I used the EK43 on its finest setting to grind this for espresso and, with a dose of 20g and a yield of 38g, was consistently getting 27 second shots. I’m very excited for this coffee to find its home as one of our featured espressos on bar in the coming weeks so that I can dial it in further and really bring it up to its full potential!

For our pour-over analysis, we started with a V60 because that’s what we’re already using on our brew bar at the moment. We brewed it up using a 19g dose of coffee on an 8.5 EK43 grind, and 300g of water. We were delighted with tasting notes of candied ginger, brown sugar, and baked apple, a hint of ripe kiwi and fruit punch, and an oolong tea-like body. While the V60 offered a definitely delicious cup of coffee, my curious brain was eager to pull every single flavor out of this coffee, so I went for the full-immersion, but still clean, filtered vibes from the Clever Dripper. From the first sip, I was blasted with flavors of baking spice, rosemary, honey, and ginger. While the rest of the barista team and I were all pretty calibrated on the other brews, this one brought in a much wider range of tasting notes, from star anise, to speculoos cookies, jasmine and molasses, to mai tai, cherries, and warm liqueur.  

Clearly, this is a super versatile coffee that’s going to shine bright with a wide range of flavors however it’s brewed, and it makes complete sense why Royal keeps bringing it back every year. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on this coffee, I’m going to recommend you try brewing it a few different ways to find your personal favorite method (mine was the Clever). And just a reminder, we’re going to be serving this coffee on our espresso bar in the coming weeks, so if you find yourself in Oakland come on by The Crown and taste it for yourself! I’d be more than happy to pull you a shot or dress it up with some latte art as wild as its tasting notes! Happy sipping!  

Origin Information

Grower
Carlos Fernández Morera | Finca El Diamante
Variety
Caturra
Region
San Rafael de San Ramón, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Harvest
November – March
Altitude
1100-1350 masl
Soil
Volcanic loam
Process
Anaerobic fermention, Fully washed, and dried in the sun on patios and raised beds
Certifications

Background Details

Costa Rica El Diamante Anaerobic SHB GrainPro is sourced from a El Diamante, which is owned and operated by Carlos Fernández Morera and his family. El Diamante is a 14-acre farm located in San Rafael de San Ramón within the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica. Carlos and his family are members of Café de Altura de San Ramón Especial S.A. (Café de Altura), an association that was founded in 2004 and currently has more than 3500 members who receive technical support to increase the quality of their coffee and productivity on their farms. El Diamante is an example of cutting edge experimentation paying off for producers. The coffee is processed using an anaerobic fermentation process, which means the depulped coffee was fermented in an airtight tank with its own honey water. Temperature, brix, pH, time, and pressure are carefully controlled to enhance the coffee's flavors during the fermentation process. The results have been frequently recognized with top finishes in the Cup of Excellence auction in Costa Rica, including a fourth-place finish in 2017.