Costa Rica Santa Rosa, La Lia micro-mill - Direct Trade Coffee

Costa Rica Santa Rosa, La Lia micro-mill - Direct Trade

In February 2012 we again visited Costa Rica to see our friends at Exclusive Coffee as well as our producer partners to choose this years offerings.   This is going to be a very good year for the Costa Rican coffees available from Fratello.  Our most exciting offering is going to be our newest Direct Trade relationship Luis Alberto Monge, the producer/owner of the La Lia Micro-mill who won 5th place in 2011 Cup of Excellence.

During this trip we cupped many lots of coffee in order to find the stand out offerings, and the coffee from the La Lia micro-mill continued to score 89+ points on the cupping table.  It was no surprise that the coffee grown at Luis’s Finca Dragon scored at 90.67, giving him the Presidential award and 2nd place win at this years 2012 Cup of Excellence competition.

Costa Rican Santa Rosa micro lot direct trade

We have a 40 bag micro-lot arriving any week now, which was grown at 1700 meters (5600 feet) on another farm of Luis’s, Finca Santa Rosa.  This was another coffee which continued to score 89+ on this trip.  It is extremely elegant and floral in characteristic.  It is 100% Caturra, fully washed and 100% Sun Dried.  The mechanical mucilage removers uses very little water, and all of the bi-product from this process is reused on the farms to limit the environmental impact.

Costa Rica Santa Rosa Direct Trade sun dried coffee

La Lia is located in the Leon Cortez micro-region of Tarrazu and just outside its capital city, San Marco.  This beautiful little mill which is able to achieve many different processing methods including the fully washed which we purchased, as well as a red & yellow honey process and a small selection of naturals.  The coffee tree nursery is also located at the mill where you will find Geisha, Ethiopian, Typica, Red & Yellow Bourbon and Caturra varietals all being grown.

Costa Rican La Lia micro-mill nursery

La Lia is only 5 years old, but capable of producing 600-700 bags of coffee per year.  This is a lot considering they only have 2-5 workers at any given time making quality control practices easier.  Their high quality coffee starts at the roots of their coffee trees, beginning with proper fertilization.  Luis explained to me that having low calcium in the soil will result in a beautiful looking cherry but that the bean density suffers, resulting in a higher percentage of “Quakers” in the green (bad beans).  By increasing Potassium levels you will begin getting harder beans and also boost flavor and overall bean development.   Luis has been working very closely with Exclusive Coffee to customize the optimal mixture of fertilization to ensure these levels of accuracy. Only when cherries have reached their optimal level of ripeness are they picked and delivered to La Lia for processing.

Costa Rica Santa Rosa Direct Trade ripe coffee cherries

As always, Costa Rica impresses me with their Micro-Mill revolution which continues to expand and improve.  I am seeing better organization, at farm level as well as more dedication to improve quality.  These producers have been getting premiums for their coffee for a few years now and are typically re-investing into their mills for efficiency’s and consistency.  La Lia is going to be a shining star amongst our offerings.  You need to get this before it is gone.

Costa Rican Coffee buying trip – 2011

At the end of February 2011 we visited our friend Francisco of Exclusive Coffee in San Jose Costa Rica.  Our goal this trip was to re-visit our relationship not only with Exclusive Coffees, but also our current coffee producer Luis who owns the Rio Jorco Micro-mill.  Below is our observation of the Costa Rican coffee growing market, as well as introduction to two great new Micro-Mills coming to Fratello.

Costa Rica Dry mill, Exclusive Coffee

To my amazement and delight, our trip started visiting the new offices of Exclusive Coffees.  They moved into a much larger facility with a state of the art cupping lab.  As always the coffees being cupped at Exclusive are roasted to perfection (which is extremely rare when visiting farms/labs at origin) and the selection of coffees for the most part where shining stars on the table.  Costa Rica has many great growing regions, and now has many first class micro-mills in each of these regions.  To keep our palates focused, we only cupped coffees from Tarrazu and the West Valley.  Aside from the cupping facility, Exclusive Coffees has installed their own Dry Mill to assist in the grading, separation and cleaning of the micro-lots being produced by the micro-mills they work with (approximately 100 micro-mills).

costa rica coffee producer direct trade Tarrazu

It’s no secret that the current pricing in the coffee market is almost at an all time high.  We’ve seen prices reach $3.00/lb at the New York Commodity Markets this year, the second highest since February 1997.   (more…)

Costa Rican Coffee Micro-mill Revolution

micro mill coffee direct trade costa rica

I guess I’m a slow learner because it took me 4 days of visiting 16 micro mills (and 1 mega mill), cupping 48 individual lots of coffee and traveling through the Tarrazu, West Valley and Central Valley regions with Jason to fully understand & appreciate the phenomenon in Costa Rica.

micro mill coffee direct trade costa rica

This phenomenon is being called “The Micro-mill Revolution” by Francisco Mena of Exclusive Coffees.   He has personally visited all 150 micro-mills that now operate through out Costa Rica and works with many of them to increase quality through proper growing, harvesting and processing techniques.

micro mill coffee direct trade costa rica

A micro-mill is small coffee farm (typically producing 1000 bags or less, or 152,000 lbs of coffee) that also has its own wet mill and processing on its farm. What this allows a farm to do is process their own cherries to ensure the absolute best quality and taste.  This also allows the farmer to separate varietals (Typica from Caturra, etc…) for micro-lots as well as introduce unique processing methods for individual coffee roasters needs (washed, honey, red-honey, naturals).  What this really means is complete traceability and a totally individual identity for each lot of coffee we bring in.

costa rican red coffee cherries

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