Costa Rica Tarrazu Hermosa
Costa Rica Tarrazu Hermosa
3* Great Taste Award 2017
A high quality cup of coffee from a high quality bean. Rich body, juicy peach brightness, and chocolate digestive with cinnamon finish
Roaster’s tip: It is very hard to go wrong with the Costa Rica, it is an amazing all rounder. Brew as a filter to bring out a cocoa and peach acidity using 16g to 250ml water.
Rich body, bright acidity, citrus and chocolate notes
In early 2018 a group of the wholesale and roasting team flew out to visit Coop Dota in Costa Rica. Here is their story.
We stepped off the plane into the intense dry heat of a January Costa Rican day. We were at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in the far north of the country, 11 hours flight time from London and at the start of our latest “origin” trip.
According to the car rental clerk the roads were ‘muy polvoso’ (very dusty). The transport we’d booked turned out to be an ancient 4x4 with the suspension and safety features of a paper coffee cup (though to be fair it never failed us throughout this trip).
Day one was all travel. We headed out of the city across miles of parched open plain ranch land, finally reaching the massive Lake Arenal with its hairpin bends and stunning views.
We’d planned a deliberately scenic route to the coffee farms and as the road climbed we drove up into the clouds and entered Monteverde Cloud Forest, literally a rainforest above cloud level and one of the most biodiverse reserves in the world.
We continued climbing. For the last hour and a half we drove on mountain roads that were little more than volcanic dirt tracks before at last reaching our hotel.
The following morning we left behind the dense mountain clouds and drove down into the lush green Dota valley where the sun shone with vital warmth.
The Dota Co-operative handles coffee processing for all the farms in the area. It’s wholly owned by the farmers themselves. This gives the farmers a good income and control over their livelihood. Through the cooperative they invest back into their community, their town ‘Santa Maria’ and the local football stadium.
The co-operative went carbon neutral a few years ago. They use coffee chaff (a byproduct of coffee roasting) to generate heat and fuel, and recycle water from the river for washing the beans. The country itself is almost 100% powered by renewables.
Within minutes of our arrival we were greeted by Luis Madrigal the General Manager, and Montserrat Hernández Sánchez, a cheerful and enthusiastic woman who was to be our guide and according to Luis was one of the new breed of coffee professionals he had hired to galvanise the business.
Over the next few days they showed us everything. The beans are dropped off by the individual farmers. They are placed in large vats of water for sorting. The good beans sink, the poor quality ones float and are skimmed off to be used for commodity coffee. Machines are used to squeeze the coffee bean out of the cherry. It’s like squeezing pips out of grapes. The beans are then washed to remove any cherry fruit remaining. The beans are then laid out to dry on patios in the heat of the sun. They are turned by rake every six hours and this can go on for several weeks. The beans are then finally sorted for quality by hand, and the remaining layer of the hull (the parchment) is also removed by hand. It just remains for the beans to be bagged and trucked to the docks for shipping to wherever in the world has bought this batch. When they ship these beans to us, that’s Tilbury Docks.
Luis drove us to the farms in his beaten up but ever reliable Toyota Land Cruiser. This man exudes passion and pride. The farms are on steep hillsides. Some near vertical. They are at an altitude of 1800 to 2000 metres – perfect for Real Coffee.
The coffee bushes are trimmed to 6 feet high and placed a metre apart. There are thousands of them although the average farm is no larger than a football pitch.
This place is so quiet. It’s the ultimate in peace. Broken only by the occasional motorbike crossing the fields and Luis calling across impossible distances to a neighbouring friend.
The beans are picked by hand. The skilled pickers know only to pick the deep red ripe cherries. There are three picks a season. In the 3rd one they pick everything, ripe and unripe, and the unripe beans go to the commodity market.
We ended a great trip by sharing a few beers with the guys by one of Costa Rica’s many waterfalls. A magical moment. Luis, Montserrat and the Dota Co-operative were truly inspiring. Their life’s mission is focused on improving the quality of their coffee.