CoopePalmares is situated in the heart of Costa Rica’s well-known West Valley, in Alajuela province, one of Costa Rica’s most historic coffee regions. Royal’s relationship with CoopePalmares goes back more than twenty years, and we have been selling microlots like this one along with larger blende profiles since before most roasters new what to do with coffee lots so small. The cooperative was founded in 1962 by 80 local coffee producers, all of whom lived and farmed in Palmares, and until 2000 was dedicated to the management of harvesting, processing, and dry milling. In 2000 the coop established a logistics department and began exporting directly to their buyers. As of 2020 the coop has more than 950 producer-members from Palmares, 85% of whom farm on less than one acre.
The coop’s state-of-the-art processing facility has certifications in quality and environmental management from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for recycling water used throughout processing, and mechanical drying coffee mechanically in heated drums (guardiolas) with recirculated airflow to maximize furnace efficiency. Personalized programs for microlot processing are equally important as resource efficiency to CoopePalmares; in addition to mechanical drying, the cooperative uses specially-designated raised beds for the careful supervised sundrying of specific microlots, as was done here.
“Red honey” used here designates a processing style of pulping coffee seeds from within the fruit and laying the parchment directly on raised beds to dry, still covered with substantial amounts of the coffee cherry’s sticky mucilage. By bypassing any further fermentation or washing, the mucilage condenses and becomes honey-like to the touch, and emits a very dense, sweet odor. The “honey” process is a broad spectrum and can be personalized by removing any amount of mucilage prior to drying, which will impact the final flavors and textures in the cup. Because mucilage darkens in the sun, honey process coffees can be considered “white”, “yellow”, “pink”, “black”, etc. “Red” honey is considered to be a medium to heavy amount of residual mucilage, with typically densely sweet and syrupy cups.
CoopePalmares has an organic fertilizer production plant and a water treatment plant adjacent to their main facility. In addition to exporting coffee, Coopepalmares operates two supermarkets and a hardware store in Palmares, and sells roasted coffee for national consumption. Cooperative members have access to low interest loans and healthcare for their families at the cooperative run health center and mobile clinic. The coop is passionately involved in reforestation both among their members’ landscape and the nearby Madre Verde Natural Reserve.