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.
Jardines de Luijim is run by farmer Carlos Montero, relative of the Castro Zeledon coffee family. It's a small plot that is part of a much larger organic estate, replete with a washing station onsite. The Estate has a fairly wide range of altitudes, with this particular plot sitting at about 1700 meters above sea level. Jardines de Luijim is roughly 7 hectares (17 acres), and Montero produced roughly 75 bags of coffee this year, 13 considered top tier, micro-lot coffee. This part of the farm is planted mainly in Caturra and Catuai, and is fully washed and milled at the micro-mill onsite. We picked this up through an intermediary who is working to bring in micro-lot coffees from this particular part of Tarrazu, often using wet mills at some of the larger estates to process the coffee since most of these small farms don't have their own mills onsite.
Out of the grinder, this coffee has a nice dried stone fruit smell, like apricot and peach, and the sweetness of ginger snap cookies. Dark roasts show a bit of spice in the fragrance, like clove, that compliments the toasted sugar smell brought on with a little more roast. Fruits are prevalent across the roast spectrum, and bolstered with the addition of hot water. Smells of pie fruit emanate from the wet crust, with the dark sugar and pectin notes you'd expect. It takes on more red berry attributes at City+, which while still present at Full City, are a bit overshadowed by a strong scent of dark brown sugar - especially when breaking the crust. The cup is so sweet, with heaps of light brown sugar, with notes of date and raisin. There's a juicy flavor of peach nectar as well, that also defines a stone fruit-like acidity, It's a rather refreshing coffee, with essence of tangerine laced in, especially in lighter roasts. Full City roasts have great mouthfeel, one that I don't always expect from Costa Rica coffees, and with a sweet cocoa flavor as well as a bit of toasted caramel. For this reason, I wouldn't hesitate from extracting a few espresso shots with Full City and beyond roasts. The finish is cocoa all the way which is not drying at all, and with lots of sweetness long after. This is one of the better Costa Rica coffees we tasted this year.
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.