If there is a problem with Costa Rica coffee, it's the fact that it can lack distinction; it is straightforward, clean, softly acidic, mild. It has lots of "coffee flavor." The trend in Costa Rica was to create large volumes of moderately good "specialty" coffee. There was a push toward high-yield coffee shrubs that lacked the clarity in cup flavor of the older types. They also required a lot of fertilizer input to maintain their bountiful yields. The large mills mixed all the small-farm coffee cherries that were delivered, the high-grown and low-grown, the ripe fruits and the not-so-ripe. The result was mediocrity.
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.