Las Lajas Benefico Ecologico Honey Series 2016
In honor of our third year offering coffees from Las Lajas Beneficio Ecologico (and because we thought it would be fun) we are offering 3 micro-lots in succession over the summer and fall. Each coffee is a unique variant of their proprietary honey (aka miel / pulped natural) milling process. Miel processing occurs when the skin of the cherry is pulped leaving most of the fruit intact before the coffee is naturally dried on raised screens. These three micro lots, yellow, red and black, are a chance to taste the difference that seemingly small changes in processing methods have on the cup. Although the cherry from each of these micro-lots have intrinsic flavor differences in the cup, they are small. The three originate from principally the same place: small farms (owned by Las Lajas’s) planted with similar tree varieties, and harvested red cherry only with the assistance of refractometers to measure sugar content.
With a fair amount of the growing variables equalized, variation in processing remains as the main determinate in the differences we taste. In this case, the coffees are turned less frequently during drying as we move from yellow to red to black. The frequency of turning the beans directly correlates with the flavors: as the beans are turned less, the notes in each coffee move darker in citrus tone and deeper in body while trading off some traditional Costa Rica clarity and brightness.
First up, is a small four 70-kilo export bag micro-lot Yellow Honey process from Finca El Chilamate. In Las Lajas’s yellow honey method, the pulped coffee cherry is frequently turned during solar-drying on raised screens.
Second, is another small 4 bag micro-lot, this time Red Honey processed from Finca Guachepelin. The Red Honey coffees are turned less frequently, only about 3 times per day.
Last, but not least, is a larger 10 bag Black Honey processed micro-lot from Finca La Mirella. Black Honey coffees are only turned once per day.
If we get enough interest (let us know), we will offer a flight of all three roasted on the same day later this fall.
Las Lajas, located in Sabanilla de Alajuela, in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica, is owned by third generation coffee farmers Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon. Their story is one of success forged by entrepreneurial genius meeting necessity as the mother of invention. Faced with the existential threat of severely low coffee prices in 2000 (known in the trade as the “The Coffee Crisis”) they turned to organic production to increase the value of their crops with the goal of preserving the land for future generations. In 2006, they started milling their own cherry in micro-lots to control quality from tree to export. This step gave them a platform for deeper understanding of how their production methods affected flavor and the infrastructure to innovate their way out of losing an entire crop after a 2008 earthquake that left them without electricity and water. By adapting water sparing natural-dry methods (and in subsequent years pulped- natural techniques) from Africa and Brazil, Dona Francisca and Don Oscar not only saved the harvest and their staffs’ jobs, they built the foundation for new ecologically-friendly coffees with a growing worldwide audience.