Intro by Chris Kornman
There is really something special about this coffee, and it has enamored us ever since we first debuted it at the Roaster Village in 2017’s Seattle SCA Expo. That show feels like a million years ago now, but if you happened to walk by The Crown’s booth, we were slinging this jammy, juicy, elegant Costa Rica back then with a lot of pride.
The flavors here in the 2020 harvest are just a walk down memory lane. Bursting with ripe cherry, raspberry, hibiscus, and strawberry notes, it’s sweet and playful but also very seriously delicious. If you remember it from before you’ll be whisked back to gentler days, and if this is your first try… well you certainly won’t forget it once you sip.
The town of Santa Maria is home to one of Costa Rica’s finest cooperatives, Coopedota. It is the world’s first certified carbon-neutral coffee exporter, but it’s much more than just a supplier with a great certification. Recently retired Director Roberto Mata built up an amazing industry, integrating social services and environmental protections while producing some of the highest quality coffee available in Costa Rica.
Coopedota’s farms stretch deep into central Costa Rica and while they produce a significant volume, they also are deeply invested in highlighting exceptional microlots. Coopedota provides members with educational opportunities in addition to access to wet and dry milling services, yet the outreach extends far beyond processing: coffee by-products are used to fuel the mechanical drying guardiolas and water use during processing is reduced by using eco-pulpers. The cooperative manages trash pickup in the city of Santa Maria de Dota, and has been able to repurpose waste into renewable forms of energy. They also roast their own coffee and operate three cafes and a cupper/barista training center.
It’s no accident that the attention to the cooperative’s members needs, the high degree of organization, and the processing precision undertaken here produce consistently delicious coffees year after year. We’re thrilled to show off the latest and greatest from Coopedota.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
You’re unlikely to find a more immaculately processed natural than this gem from Santa Maria de Dota. Classic EP style sizing (16+) paired with perfect moisture figures and an unbelievably high density indicate the extreme level of excellent sorting and processing at the cooperative. You should expect the green to survive nicely on the shelf and soak a bit of heat when roasting.
The most common cultivars grown in Costa Rican specialty farms tend to be short ones, as are the two iterations found here. Caturra is Bourbon’s short-stature mutation, and Catuaí is a hybrid of Caturra and Mundo Novo. The primary advantage of coffee dwarfism is compact planting: shorter trees can be placed closer together and increase the yield per hectare. They’re also a little easier to harvest, as a result. Both are regarded for their high quality potential in the cup.
Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman
We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor, and were recalibrated in September 2019.
I’m sure it’s at least part personal preference, but I do love it when dry processed coffees like this Costa Rica spend just a touch longer in the color development stage of roasting. On the Ikawa this week the coffee shone brightly on all three profiles, but really stood apart at the mid-length high airflow profile designed (as it happens) specifically for coffees like this: high density, moderate moisture, and dried in the fruit.
The shortest roast (blue) left the cup just a little thin and only vaguely hinted at florality, while the longer low airflow profile (yellow) took on a slightly savory sensation… if you’re into papaya (I am not) this style might suit you. Plenty of sweetness here, but the fruits verged ever-so-slightly on overripe. I’m the kinda guy that prefers a hint of green still on the banana peel, so bear that in mind.
The Maillard +30 roast is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, though. Jammy and juicy throughout with copious sweetness and ripe red fruits to spare, it was a clear stand out. About 35% of the roast was Maillard between color change and first crack… so long as you keep your roasting style brisk you could probably even extend that to 40+ and see what happens, without losing much in the fruit department.
I found the coffee to behave surprisingly predictably in the Ikawa despite its super-high density. First crack occurred exactly on target for all three profiles. Expect a high degree of consistency in your FC temperature on whatever machine you happen to be roasting on.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Roast 3: Crown 7m SR Low AF
Roast Analysis by Candice Madison
This coffee from Coopedota in Santa Maria is a perennial favorite at The Crown, and has been for about three years. This wonderfully sorted coffee is the result of careful quality control at farm level, and an incredible attention to detail throughout the post-harvest processing period. By the time it arrives, we know we’re in for a treat.
Knowing this coffee already has a pretty unusual flavor profile, and one that can be manipulated to achieve diverse results in the cup, I decided to take an unusual tack with my analysis roast. I wanted to do two things; roast this coffee to highlight the sweetness, and roast to preserve the fruit and spice notes that make this coffee so unique.
I tend to treat natural coffees a little more gently with regard to heat transfer, throughout a roast. Natural coffees can drink up a lot of available heat during a roast, as this one did. However, don’t let your guard down; after first crack, this coffee needed a deft hand and quick control as it threatened to take off.
I only had 300g on hand to play with, and as my usual charge weight on the Probatino is 400g, I adjusted my drop temperature 10 degrees, charging the drum at 350F instead of 360F. Starting with the gas at the minimum (2 on the gas dial), I turned up the gas after the turning point to 2.5. I usually turn the gas up to 3 or 3.5 (after a slight regulator adjustment), however, I didn’t want to scorch the surface of the beans or push the roast too quickly through stage 2.
By turning the gas up to 2.5 and leaving it there until just before first crack, the coffee had the necessary heat to make it through the first two stages – more than enough, in fact. This roast was incredibly fast and the coffee cracked within 5 minutes. I recorded first crack at 400F, but I’m fairly sure it started at around 395F. I noticed that the rate of change/rise (RoC/RoR) stayed constant for about 10 seconds just before I recorded first crack, so I turned the gas down to 2 and left it there. As the RoC was still quite high, I adjusted the flame dial to 50% to eke out more from the development stage.
I was nervous going into the cups the next morning. I knew that I could always ask for another sample, but I approach all of my analysis roasts as if I were a production roaster, back in the days when I would only get 150g of a sample and have to make it work! I was unduly rewarded with jammy flavors of black cherry and tamarind, and thick and syrupy molasses sweetness. Flavors of butter, vanilla, clove, and allspice helped bring dimension and a frame for those deep flavors, articulating the sweetness. The soft tartness of raspberries shored up a soft lemon acidity. And the body I can’t help but describe as soft and pillowy. This coffee is a stunner – a real stand out. I have some left over, and I’ll be making another flash brew for my weekend hike. Yum!
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Roasting natural coffees on the Behmor is always an adventure. The slower heating times take coffee on a longer path through drying and Maillard stages, but natural coffees like this one can really take off after first crack. I am always extra aware of that when approaching a natural, but I have loved this coffee in years past, and I’m very glad it’s back to grace my cup!
In order to draw this coffee gently through first crack, I applied gentle heat through Maillard. While I started with 100% heat application (P5) from the start, I preempted first crack and hit P4 at 9:40, a bit more than a minute before first crack, which happened at 10:55. At first crack, I opened the door of the roaster to let out some heat and smoke, and was greeted by a strawberry marshmallow flavor straight out of my fondest cereal box memories. I allowed the coffee to develop for 1:05, and hit cool while the door was still open.
Pretty simple roast, and this coffee had good enough momentum to chug through first crack without heavy heat application. The cup was phenomenal. Those strawberry notes I got during roasting carried through, and a milky sweetness like a caramel square backed up the bright fruit notes.
This one was just as fun to brew, too. Take a look below for some brewing suggestions:
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
Some coffees just want to be brewed.
My very first pour of this coffee was delicious, and only the numbers told me that it wasn’t supposed to be. I performed a fast pour using the Chemex, and a grind setting of 24 on the Baratza Virtuoso, with each pulse pour being 200g. Strangely (though fairly common for extremely dense coffees), the pour through was slow at 5:20. My extraction percentage was only 17%, but I didn’t know this until after my tasting notes: Lemon, floral, milk chocolate, star fruit, and tart dried cherry. This coffee was astoundingly tasty at 17%! But looking back, I wanted to see if I could get more out of it.
As I know from experience, these high grown and dense coffees sometimes pour through more quickly with a slightly finer grind setting. This is totally unintuitive, but my gut tells me that due to the density, these coffees may be more brittle, leading to more incidence of fines at coarser grind sizes. But I won’t say that I have scientific peer reviewed studies to back that up!
So I used grind 22 on the Virtuoso, and performed the same 200g pulse pours. Voila, a 5:00 total brew time, and a 19% extraction percentage. The cup was delicious, but in a completely different way. I almost preferred the underextracted cup in some regards, but this version had intense strawberry rhubarb pie flavors, with a nostalgic canned fruit cocktail syrupiness, and bright lime acidity to top it off.
I would hazard to say that this coffee is going to be a divisive one. The intense fruit lovers out there are going to like it any way they can get it, but those with picky palates are going to prefer lighter extractions. There is a lot to work with here, and I do think this is a great option for single origin drip, but it might be too intense for espresso! Full immersion was nice in the cupping setting, but I know I definitely preferred the clarity of a filter drip.
Then again, as I LeVar Burton wisely intoned, “don’t take my word for it!” You should taste it yourself!