Costa Rica | Las Lajas Micro Mill | Perla Negra - Natural
Flavor Profile - Big and lush with deep fruit tones of blueberry, cherry and lemon zest, backed by chocolate infused body and light herbal hints in the sweet finish.
Costa Rica - Las Lajas Micro-Mill - Perla Negra - Natural
- Farm: Finca Las Lajas
- Region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Central Valley
- Process: Perla Negra - Natural/Dry Process
- Altitude: 1450 meters
- Variety: Villa Sarchi, Caturra
Honey Series and Perla Negara
- Yellow Honey- turned hourly on drying beds
- Red Honey- turned a few times per day
- Black Honey- turned once per day
- Perla Negra - natural / dry processed on raised screens.
More Info About This Coffee
Oscar and Francisca Chacon of Las Lajas Micromill are third-generation coffee producers who are committed to quality and innovation, and are probably best known for being among the first to produce honey coffees in Costa Rica. The micromill is also one of the only certified-organic mills in the area, and the Chacons take their environmental impact very seriously.
As average temperatures rise and the weather patterns change, the Chacons are considering adding more shade trees to their farm to moderate the heat, and to add irrigation systems to combat the inconsistent rainy seasons Costa Rica has had the past few years. To mitigate their water usage, Oscar uses a Penagos demucilaginator to depulp his coffee, and since the coffees are all natural or honey process, very little water is used at the mill.
Harvesting and processing are overseen with great care by both Oscar and Francisca: During the harvest, Francisca will measure the Brix of the cherry to determine the optimal ripeness, and picking will begin when the Brix reads about 22°. Harvesting by Brix reading is also helpful as newer varieties sometimes ripen to different colors: Using the refractometer helps keep the harvest at uniform ripeness, which is key when producing high-quality naturals and honeys.
Las Lajas began producing honey coffees in 2008, after an earthquake cut off the mill's access to water for several weeks. Oscar had heard that in Brazil and Ethiopia they use pulped-natural and natural techniques to process coffees, so he tried it with his harvest that year. Around that same time, Cafe Imports founder and president Andrew Miller visited the area, and was so impressed by the flavor of the Chacons' coffee he became one of the first buyers of the new process. Oscar believes that just as the roast profile will change the flavor of a coffee, the drying curve also has an impact. He wants the drying to happen slowly, which means that production is necessarily limited.
Honey & Dry/Natural Processing- In the honey process (aka miel, pulped natural...) the skin and varying amounts of fruit are removed (pulped) from the cherry before drying. This is in contrast to traditional wet-processing where the pulped-cherry is fermented and then washed before drying. When done well, honey processed coffees are more complex with viscous body and softer acidity, the trade off is a reduction in acidity and some loss of clarity vs traditional wet-processed coffees.
In dry/natural processing (coffee can't ever be simple: in the trade both names describe the same process, except when it doesn't, more about that some other day) the whole cherry is dried, ideally on raised screens. Due to the difficulty in managing results with this process, historically it has been done in arid regions, principally parts of Ethiopia and Brazil. What we are seeing
At Las Lajas, their commitment to the environment has led them to focus solely on water sparing milling methods using the latest Penagos technology. Their honey processes leave nearly 100% of the fruit intact before sun drying on raised screens.
Micro Lot- in the coffee trade a normal lot of coffee is 37,500 pounds, the amount that fits in a shipping container, not coincidentally, it is also the amount of the ICE “C” futures contract traded in New York. In specialty coffee, we are undergoing a micro-lot revolution where specially prepared coffees from select micro-regions, altitudes and/or day(s) of picking within larger farms or cooperatives are kept separate from normal specialty and commodity lots. These coffees promise to cup better, while more uniquely expressing their terroir. And yes, we pay more, sometimes considerably more, for them.