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.
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).
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…)
Direct Trade Coffee - Costa Rican Tarrazu - Rio Jorco Micro-Mill
Fratello Coffee is proud to introduce an exclusive new coffee available from the Tarrazu Valley in Costa Rica. Last month, we wrote about a Micro Mill Revolution happening in this region, this is one of those special micro-lots we wrote about.
The Rio Jorco Micro-Mill employees between 4-6 people & has 65 pickers during harvest season. Rio Jorco is situated at an altitude of 4600 feet, and like many farms in Tarrazu faces the Pacific Coast. The strong winds from the Pacific are important as they create a defined dry season. This dryness causes a stress on trees creating extra sweetness in Tarrazu coffees, and especially in the 100% Caturra lots we chose from Rio Jorco.
Rio Jorco which was once known as Hacienda Jorco, is rich in history and has played a key role in the development of excellent coffee within the Tarrazu region. The Rio Jorco Micro-Mill processes all of the coffee from their own estate. unlike in their early historyof 1910, when the coffee had to be taken from Jorco to San Jose using Oxen or on horseback. Though the distance was only 15 miles it was a long trip up winding muddy roads. This required oxen to be changed 2 or three times and a one day trip was considered fast. (more…)
Costa Rican Coffee Micro-mill Revolution
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.
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.
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.
Fratello Coffee is introducing a new Costa Rican to our clients this February. We have done a lot of research to find this coffee and are very pleased with our results. After narrowing down from 30 original varities submitted from Costa Rica, we had decided to put the top 12 into a final round of cupping.
From the top 12 coffees, 6 were chosen and re-cupped to find our number 1 selection. After many hours of cupping, Fratello has chose to work with the Coopedota cooperative.
We gave this coffee a Cupping Score of 88.6 and found that this fully washed, high altitude coffee gave an extremely clean taste, with a creamy and toffee like body. What really stood out for me with the lingering bright and sparkling orange acidity. Will can also pick up a slight spicey (nutmeg) note in the aromas.