This is an experimental anaerobic washed coffee from San Rafael de San Ramón, Costa Rica, produced by Carlos Morera on his farm Finca El Cerro.
The flavor profile is complex and unique, with distinct notes of cinnamon and gingerbread accompanied by caramel, hibiscus, and pear.
Our roasters found the coffee to respond best to a gentle approach to heat during the early stages.
When brewed the coffee offers more floral and spice complexity at lower extraction percentages, while higher TDS counts may round off those nuances.
Taste Analysis by Colin Cahill
We are so excited to be bringing another harvest of this coffee back, and it does not fail to bring bold cinnamon and caramel notes. It is a beautifully clean bean that shows off its complex processing in its dynamic layers of flavor. Lighter roasts and brews feature smooth, buttery caramel flavors, hints of autumnal fruits—especially apple and cranberry—and a lingering cinnamon aftertaste. Pushed further, the sweetness and body enter buttercream frosting territory with layers of dried fruit, tamarind, grapefruit, plum, and ripe strawberry, with a whisp of rose. A heavier pourover will yield a brew filled with notes of Ponche Navideño, and I expect an espresso to sing of graham cracker. This coffee will be delicious at any time of year, but will make for an extra special bean for the winter holidays!
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 64th 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 Analysis by Chris Kornman
The first sensory experience with this coffee starts with the green, richly aromatic with sweet, warming spice tones a little like a holiday candle are both welcome and unexpected. The physical metrics here offer some insight into Carlos Morera’s experience, marked by precision and consistency. The green is sorted to standard 16+ EP sizes and is high in density and low in moisture with a beautifully stable water activity level. The coffee will undoubtedly age well on the shelf in good storage conditions.
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Chris Kornman
This is, of course, a ridiculous coffee.
My roast plan on the beans began by acknowledging this fact and embracing it. To bring out the best from this wild coffee is to ignore a few of your better instincts.
While the coffee is dry and dense like an East African selection, it is also uniquely processed and has a delicate, inherent sweetness that might be stamped out if treated too aggressively. I charged my drum at a modest temperature and waiting to add gas (about 70%) until just before the turn around.
I also waited a little extra time to open the airflow baffle to 50%, right when I observed color change. The result was a slow drying stage which allowed me to shorten Maillard reactions without having to add any additional gas. I opened the airflow fully about a minute before first crack began, at which point I knew my ROR was unsustainable and I killed the burners fully.
The drop in heat delta smoothed the final moments of roasting and I was able to extend first crack to about 80 seconds and drop the coffee at a light but manageable 396F. The 52 Colortrack score (ground) confirmed my light roasting intent, and the light exterior score (58, whole bean) gave me some hope that I had avoided both baking and scorching.
The cup offered a glazed-and-caramelized pastry-like decadence, with undeniable notes of gingerbread and cinnamon harmoniously interplaying with hints of strawberry marmalade, poached pear, and raspberry. The coffee is pliable, and you’ll get good, characteristic results regardless of your approach. That said, a little TLC in the early stages will allow you to bend the profile better later.
Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 200g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
Back for another year of wackiness, this special Costa Rican coffee made itself known through the sample bag. Even the aroma of the green is very different from its Central American counterparts due to the unique processing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As a decently dense and dry coffee, I decided to start with a good deal of heat, and charged this 200g batch at 391F. I didn’t want to hit it too hard, however, and started at 7.5A heat application, only ramping up to the full 10A a little before turning point. My next move was to reduce heat back to 7.5A and introduce fan speed at 250F / 2:10, because this coffee was really cooking. I introduced full fan speed for 1 minute at 320F / 3:55, then ramped back down to 3 as my rate of rise began to drop. This was in an effort to give the coffee more time in Maillard.
I wasn’t afraid of this coffee losing too much momentum after first crack due to the very low moisture content, so I reintroduced full fan speed at 375F / 6:45, and was taken aback as this coffee began to gain speed while rolling into crack. This is likely because plenty of moisture was retained in the barrel, due to holding back fan speed through Maillard. Just after crack began, I cut heat application and allowed the coffee to continue rolling through until drop at 398.8F / 8:27.
To be honest, this coffee was a bit difficult to read as it was roasting, but I ended up with delicious results nonetheless. I would have liked to avoid an increase in rate of rise late in the roast, and I’d certainly keep my airflow going in subsequent roasts. Again, definitely no problems on the cupping table! The fragrance of the freshly ground coffee wasn’t as wild as when the water hit the grounds. Huge cinnamon and clove aromas, as well as some very gentle anise and camphoric overtones. This coffee is perfect for fall, even though we’re still in the final weeks of summer (or so I tell myself as a Bay Area resident). Spiced cider, hard candy ribbons, hot chocolate… this is a super nostalgic and warming cup of coffee.
Brew Analysis by Colin Cahill
Zainab and I, as new baristas in the tasting room, had heard stories about this coffee whenever we asked about memorable beans that have come through The Crown. Zainab took the lead on our brew plan, selecting four brewers with variations on a design: the Saint Anthony Industries (SAI) C70 conical brewer with a single opening in the bottom, a Bee House flat-bottom cone-shape brewer with two drain holes, a Kalita Wave flatbed brewer with three holes, and a Fellow Stagg flatbed brewer with ten holes. Our brews with the Bee House, Kalita Wave, and Fellow Stagg brewers came out with similar extractions, so to highlight the greatest variation, we focused our analysis on the Bee House and the SAI C70 brewers.
The C70 conical brewer, with SAI perfect paper filters, yielded a clean, sweet brew with a surprisingly buttery mouthfeel tasting of dulce de leche. The cinnamon note was most subtle in this brew and most noticeable in the lingering aftertaste. This brew had the softest acidity of the bunch, yet still had hints of fruity brightness, coming through as notes of apple, cranberry, and raw, dark chocolate.
With only 8 more seconds of brew time, the Bee House brew had a much lower TDS reading and extraction rate, yielding a much more nuanced, yet well-balanced brew. This brew was cinnamon-forward with layers of fruit flavors, from rich, molasses-y raisin and date notes, to brighter green apple and tamarind notes. It had a much bolder chocolate note and offered hints of florality.
This bean is beautifully balanced and offers lots of room to play around with brewing dials to highlight different flavors. We are super excited to keep playing with this coffee on our pourover bar!