I remember a conversation with a Danish colleague telling me that we, as an industry, could achieve so much more with coffee than presenting these overripe, spectacular experiences that might surprise and make people wonder, but rarely made up for very well-produced coffees. Coffee was so much more than that, he told me. No doubt, naturals have served as a grand gateway to speciality coffee - which I believe is a good thing - but more often than not producers and baristas were making decisions that would compromise on balance and cup profile because the fermented character had to be as wild and funky as possible.
I believe competitions weren’t helping. Judges wanted something different, the young and wild industry were quite desperately looking for something that stood out. It had to be spectacular - that was the most important thing. All of a sudden the well-fermented and well-produced naturals were overlooked. In this rather confusing climate, naturally processed coffees were not cool anymore. (Competition was another story, naturals continued to dominate at the annual coffee shows).
Mauricio is part of a family who has been cultivating coffees for centuries. He is the fourth generation of coffee producers and he is now introducing his 17-year-old son to the world of speciality grade production. Since we met him for the first time back in 2014, he has been the man behind some of the best Central American naturals we have ever tasted.
In this month’s subscription you’ll find two differently processed coffees from this fantastic farm: a washed and a natural processed coffee; Caturra and Catuai varietals. At La Cabra we’ve been happy to work closely with small Costa Rican producers for years now, and the coffees from Don Mauricio Vindas are perhaps the best example of this relationship.
Several varietals are grown on the farm, which also features a small forestry reserve. The soil is rich, the coffee trees are healthy, and Don Mauricio relies on several different practices to improve the humus content of his topsoil and maintain adequate nutrition for root systems. This includes thrice annual fertilization with a mix of native microorganisms from the nearby forest – a very practical example of how biodiversity stewardship supports a healthy and high quality coffee production.