Green Coffee Offerings : Central America : Costa Rica
Upcoming Crop Comments
2013 Costa Ricas are packaged and ready to go. Our first selections are great, and keep an eye out for more by mid Summer.
About Costa Rican Coffee
Can a coffee be too perfect, too balanced, so all you can say about it is ," Hmm ... it has coffee flavor."' That's the criticism that used to be leveled at the coffees from Costa Rica - too balanced, too mild. We categorize this type of coffee as the "classic cup," the traditional balanced coffee that has no defects or taints. Coffee cuppers call it "clean" and it's not the same thing as "boring." Yet many Costa Ricas from the large farms and mills are exactly that; middle-of-the-road arabicas. But there's can be more to a Costa Rican coffee than neutrality. They are prized for their high notes: bright citrus or berry-like flavors in the acidity, with distinct nut-to-chocolate roasty flavors.
For me, the main issue with Costa Rica had been the model of coffee production, big mills creating brands, not small farms with their own tree-to-bag processing. Since we are small and can handle small lots in a way that is not economical for a larger coffee company, we changed the way we sourced Costa Rican coffees in 2008 and had some spectacular micro-lot offerings.
This new quality initiative is coming from smaller mills, low-volume farm-specific coffee producers who now keep their lots separate, mill it themselves, gaining control of the process, and tuning it to yield the best possible flavors (and the best price). This change in processing is possible due to new environmentally-friendly small milling equipment, and the disatisfaction of small producers who sell coffee at market prices, only to see it blended with average, carelessly-harvested lots. With an independent family mill, a farmer can become a true "coffee craftsperson," maximize the cup quality of their coffee, dividing lots by elevation or cultivar, and receiving the highest prices for their microlot coffees. In turn, we get unique and diverse microlots, and a transparent, long-term relationship with the small farmer. Some call it Direct Trade, but we call it our Farm Gate coffee, where we can be assured of exactly what the farmer received. And in these cases they yield 40%-100%+ more than Fair Trade prices.
The range of flavors that result from Costa Rican coffees has expanded without limit due to the new relationships we are forming, ranging from traditional wet-processed lots with vivid brightness and clean fruit notes, to ... well, radically different dry-processed coffees as well as pulped natural "honey" coffees. And there is everything inbetween too, so please read our descriptions and enjoy the new diversity of flavors.
I have been to Costa Rica now many times, and my Spanish gets better with each trip. For more information check out the photos in the travelogue section of the Coffee Library page. -Tom
Our Unroasted Costa Rican Coffee Offerings
Providencia is a sub-region of the area called Dota. Santa Maria de Dota is one of the main towns in the Tarrazu valley proper, where many of the best coffees of Costa Rica originate. This lot combines small farmers from the Providencia micro-region, and we felt it has a classic Dota cup character. In particular, this is expressed in the ripe fruits and strong sweetness in the cup. We have bought from micro-mills in the Dota area in the past (Los Angeles for example) and from the large coop there, Coopedota. But this Providencia sample really had the cup character we want from this terroir.
Cupping against other lots from Costa Rica, this coffee really stands out. It has a wonderful aroma of tropical fruit in the dry grounds that is accentuated by a honeyed sweetness. Spiced plum, peach, mango, and tamarind, provide a "heaftyness" to the wet grounds, and a sweet, raw macadamia nut note comes up off the break. This coffee really seems to do better on the front edge of Full City, bolstering body, fruit juice flavors, and harnessing a sweet finish. At this roast level, the cup has blackberry, blood orange, and pineapple juice, and with an underlying taste of toasted pistachio nut. The combination is quite delicious and reminds me of Turkish Delight candies. This coffee is sweet all the way through to the finish, and the aftertaste reminds me of chocolate syrup and maraschino cherry.
View Cupping Scores
To view reviews for out of stock coffees, visit our Costa Rica Coffee Archives.
2005-2006 | 2004 -2003 | 2001-2002 | Pre-2000
Tom's Sample Cupping Log | Moisture Content Readings
This page is authored by Thompson Owen and Sweet Maria's Coffee, Inc. and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission