Santa Lucia makes a lovely cup at City+, honey and toffee sweetness counteract a bittersweet core, top note accents include dried peach, dried whole banana, and coconut chips. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.
This is a separated lot from Santa Lucia farm, one of the three farms surrounding the Helsar micro mill in Costa Rica's West Valley area. The mill and farm are run by Ricardo Perez, who along with his two brothers, each manage a farm and operations at Helsar. The Helsar mill was one of the first in the region to break up lots by individual producer instead of bulking coffees together. Not only do they process the coffee from their farms, but they also process the coffees of a few dozen neighbors (coffees we also tend to buy annually - Miguel Rojas, Magdalena Vega, Asdrubal Chavez, and others). The coffee quality is due in part to the excellent processing methods at this mill. Each year they make improvements, the past few years adding new dry milling equipment, more and improved raised drying beds, warehouse space for improved storage of coffee in the resting phase (reposo). Helsar uses forced demucilage equipment to machine-wash their coffee, an efficient method with low environmental impact that has similar outcomes to traditional wet-fermentation processing. As for the farm, Santa Lucia is planted in Caturra, Catuai, and Villalobos, and they use only fully organic farm practices. This lot is a separation of only the Villalobos cultivar, which is a dwarf mutation of Typica. Santa Lucia was certified organic until last year, when the brothers decided to forego the certification due to cost and bureaucracy, though they continue to operate 100% organic.
Cupping a City+ roast of Santa Lucia, the ground coffee brings a subtle sweetness to the table, bittering core coffee characteristics present with a layer of unrefined sugar sweetness mixed in. The coffee makes quite a transformation from this humble start, wet aromatics giving promise of a bigger coffee than the fragrance lets on to. A coconut and dark chocolate smell comes up in the steam, along with fruited accents that are still a little on the dull side, but their presence is definite. And the brewed coffee gives the final show, a sweet undercurrent of toffee and honey flavors, offsetting central bittersweetness. There's life breathed into the fruited tones sensed early on in aroma, and they take form as accents of dried peach, whole dried banana, and coconut chips. Santa Lucia has lovely apple/malic acidic impression at this roast level too, which adds definition to the flavors in the cup profile. Body is noticeably juicy too, and I think taking a shade darker (Full City) will yield dense bittersweetness and viscous mouthfeel, not to mention make a good option for Costa Rican single origin espresso.