Costa Rica Miguel Rojas & MISO micro-lots, Direct Trade Coffee

Miguel Rojas

In February 2012 we visited Costa Rica to see our friends at Exclusive Coffee as well as our producer partners to choose this years offerings.  For the second year we will be offering Miguel Rojas coffee which are grown in the West Valley, more specifically in the micro region Llano Bonito of Naranjo.  This year we will have 2 offerings from Miguel, both micro-lots grown on Finca La Palmita, but one in particular is very special.

Miguel and Nelson Rojas with Russ

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.  This is going to be a very good year for the Costa Rican coffees available from Fratello.

Miguel Rojas MISO micro lot

Miguel, his son Nelson and their 20 staff harvested a plot of his farm for us at 1700-1750 meters.  This plot of land is located in a lower bowl shaped part of his farm which is protected from all sides from the Pacific & Atlantic winds. This plot of land has been called MISO and produced 15 sacks (2280 lbs) of amazing coffee.  On all of Finca La Palmita is a mixture of 70% Caturra and 30% Villalobos Typica.   A total of 120 sacks are produced on their farm and Fratello Coffee has the top 55 coming to Calgary (exclusive in Canada).

Miguel Rojas harvesters

The most interesting geographical attribute, is that this farm is located on a calcareous deposit, which contains high levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals.  What you notice right away is how the soil had a "sandy-like" texture.  These high levels of calcium aid in producing a very hard bean density.  Miguel introduced experimental potassium fertilization into this plot of land, which boosted the sweetness of flavor profiles found the cup as well.  What was most noticeable was the extreme consistency of red cherries amongst all the trees in this small plot.

Miguel Rojas delivering cherry to Helsar

Miguel brought in an extra crew of harvesters to pick this entire MISO lot over a 2 day period.   After harvesting, Miguel has all of his coffee brought to the famous Helsar Micro Mill.   The owner of Helsar, Ricardo Perez has won many awards for the quality of coffee they produce.  The pride of his work is noticed at every step from cherry separation, the cleanliness of the mill, the organization/separation of special lots and the brand new dry mill being installed while we were there.

Helsar Micro Mill Parabolic dryers

Both lots we have purchased are fully washed and sun dried under parabolic protection for 8 days.  Ricardo has done density sorting in the parchment stage as well as after hulling the green coffee.  All coffee has been shipped in Grain Pro packaging to ensure the moisture content of this green stays consistent.  A LOT of work has gone into this coffee and it really shows in the cup.

Both lots are now in Calgary and will be available mid August 2012.  MISO won’t last long…..sorry.

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.

Rwanda COOPAC - Fair Trade Coffee

Fratello has a new coffee from Rwanda which we are excited to introduce.  We have been hoping to roast a coffee from Rwanda for a few years now; however, every sample we would receive would never delight us in a way that would make us want to offer it to you.  Often after careful analyzation we would find off flavors or defects which would make it impossible for us to stand behind that coffee.

Rwanda COOPAC Fair Trade gives you a sweet whiney aroma, with a long lingering grapefruit acidity.  Mild toffee & milk chocolate flavours finish with a crisp mouthfeel.   This is a Fully Washed process coffee which mixes the varietals Bourbon and Mayaguez which were grown at an elevation of 1500-2000 meters in the Rutsiro & Rubava Districts in the Western Province near Gisenyi. (more…)

Coffee Processing: What gives coffee unique flavors?

harvesting red coffee cherries

This is an interesting question, and one that does not have a quick answer.  I often compare coffee to wine as there are many comparables.  All bottles of red wine from Italy do not taste the same.  It is dependent on the vineyard, the grape (Merlot, etc..), the harvest, soil conditions, altitude, weather conditions of that particular harvest in that particular year, in that particular region.  All of this is also true with coffee.

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