CoopeDota, the world’s first certified carbon-neutral coffee exporter, is much more than just a coffee operation 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 provides members with 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. CoopeDota’s farms stretch deep into the Tarrazu region and while they produce a significant volume, they also are deeply invested in highlighting exceptional microlots.
This regional blend has undergone “Honey” processing, a hybrid processing method that strips the skin and fruit away but leaves the sticky mucilage surrounding the coffee in tact. After pulping, unlike with washed coffees, the mucilage-covered parchment is sent straight to the drying tables, skipping the fermentation tank and channel grading steps. This particular lot is a “red” honey, meaning a fair amount of fruit was left on the seed – not as much as if it were a “black” honey, but more than a “yellow” or “white” iteration.
Honey processing is the rose, any other name by which would smell as sweet… frequently referred to elsewhere in the world as semi-washed or pulped natural. So far as I can determine, it is Brazilian processing equipment manufacturer Pinhalense who stake the claim to creating the world’s first cereja descascado (literally “deskinned cherry”) in 1991 as a value-add alternative to the country’s traditionally dry-processed coffee. The pulped natural was a handy way to sell the local market a bunch of new equipment while offering an environmentally friendly answer to demands for washed coffees in dry regions.
A unique green coffee, this Red Honey from CoopeDota has a fragrance like sweet pipe tobacco. The coffee has very little foxy appearance, as can be common with hybrid and dry processed coffees (seeds that have prolonged contact with the fruit sometime develop a reddish hue to the silverskin). Its European Prep (EP) sizing are unsurprising, but the coffee is of above average density, a little higher than average in total moisture content, but the real surprise is the high water activity. Seems likely you’ll see some darker sugar browning on this coffee as you enter first crack during the roast.
The coffee’s genetics are the classic Central American selections Caturra and Catuaí. A little history: after heirloom Bourbon seeds crossed the ocean into the New World, the plant began to take on new characteristics. One mutation, eventually called Caturra, was first observed in Brazil and is noted for its short stature and resistance to wind and rain. Another spontaneously occurring cultivar called Mundo Novo (first appearing as a cross of Bourbon and Typica) was used as an ingredient alongside Caturra to create the cultivar known as Catuaí, also a dwarf tree that can produce higher yields when properly fertilized.
Although this coffee is dense, the high moisture content and high water activity of this coffee along with the honey process seem to have a larger impact on how it roasts and its overall flavor. My first roast was a low charge with high heat. This gave the coffee ample time to release excess moisture during the drying stage, but also had a huge derailment on the momentum of the roast through Maillard and post crack development time. The rate of rise was much lower than I wanted to see leading up to first crack. I decided that my next roast would have a higher charge to shorten my drying time and to give me more energy during the end of the roast I would gradually raise the heat for the first half of the roast. This gave me a much higher rate of rise through first crack and significantly reduced my overall roast time. Although my drying time was shorter than in roast one, I had so much energy built up that I raced through the rest of the roast and the drying stage resulted in 50% of my total roast time. I was hoping to experience brighter acids like other dense coffees of the same screen size, but instead the acids were masked by sugar-browning flavors. I recommend a low charge and a long relaxed profile for this coffee to achieve the best balance.
Roast one: Cranberry, hibiscus, honey, lime, oregano
Roast two: Peach, green apple, vanilla butter cookie
Now that I feel more comfortable with heat adjustments on the Behmor, I have been experimenting with turning down the heat a bit after first crack. This tactic worked fairly well with this Costa Rican Red Honey. Though I haven’t had too much success with pre-heating the roaster, this may be a case where a little extra heat would help, due to the moderately high moisture content of this coffee.
225 grams of this coffee took a little longer than most to reach first crack, at a little over 13 minutes. My final roast loss percentage was 13.2%, which makes this a relatively light roast and even a bit underdeveloped. It performed well on the table however, scoring marginally (but not significantly) better, with notes of vanilla, almond, apricot, and cherry.
About five days off the roast I took Jen’s two roasts for a ride in a pair of Chemex brewers. The two were brewed at nearly identical specs and to nearly identical solubility readings, though the first roast took about 30 seconds longer in total brew time. Overall, the coffee tended to be a little less soluble than others at similar brew specs; try starting with a slightly finer grind than average if you like when brewing this Red Honey as a manual drip option.
Tasters noted cherry, cranberry, apple, apricot, and other malic fruits in both brews, with the first roast tending garnering notes of honey, chocolate, and green tea while the second roast edged into flavors of cedar and lemongrass.