Violet, Cherry and Blueberry
This lot was created using a rather new process, part of an experiment we started with Mauricio in 2018. Inspired by processes we have seen from some of our progressive producer partners, we attempted an anaerobic pre-fermentation. The coffee is first pulped mechanically, removing most of the fruit, as with the white honey process. The parchment coffee and almost gel-like mucilage are then packed tightly into a small fermentation tank, and sealed with almost no oxygen present. As the fermentation starts to occur, carbon dioxide is produced, creating an almost completely anaerobic environment, and raising the pressure within the tank. This affects coffee flavour in two ways. An anaerobic environment favours a very different set of fermenting bacteria and yeast, leading to a dominant lacto-fermentation. The pressure also forces coffee juices into the seed itself, adding more fermentable sugars to continue the process. The coffee is then dried with the mucilage still attached, as with a honey processed coffee. All of this adds layers of complexity to the final cup, and a very clean and juicy character, a very distinctive and wild expression of the Altos terroir.
Altos del Abejonal sits at 1800 metres above sea level in the Tarrazu region, only 70 kilometres south of the Costa Rican capital San Jose. The Talamanca Sierra runs through the region, with peaks of above 3000 masl. The farm is also close to the regional capital of San Marcos, which sits at 1350 masl and is home to 9000 people, providing the hub to an area famous for its high quality coffee production. The volcanic soil and afternoon cloud cover in the region provides the perfect conditions for Mauricio to produce excellent coffees at Altos.
We first met Mauricio by chance. In March 2014 we were in Tarrazu, travelling around farms as guests of Exclusive Coffees, an exporter based in the region. After the last farm visit, our driver had to make a quick errand to see a friend, whose child had broken his hip and couldn’t leave home. The driver dropped off a gift for the boy, while we made some conversation with his father. He was also a coffee farmer, he told us stories of his passion for coffee production and of how his son wanted to become a barista. The next day we asked the staff at Exclusive about Mauricio, and were able to cup his coffees. Some of the cleanest naturals we had ever tasted shone on the table, along with clean and crisp honey-processed coffees. We visited Altos again the next day, and bought our first couple of bags. The coffee was so well received back in Denmark that we returned to Costa Rica the next year to visit Mauricio and buy more coffee. This is now our seventh year buying coffees from Mauricio. Having built a relationship over several years, we have discovered a shared interest in pushing the boundaries of how his coffee can taste. This coffee is very special to the team here at La Cabra, we always await its arrival with baited breath, eager to taste the fruits of this year’s harvest. The hard work and dedication shown by Mauricio at every stage of coffee production is obvious in the cup, and we are proud to showcase his work to so many of those who truly appreciate it.
We recommend our roasted coffee for all brew methods, regardless of whether it is immersion, percolation or espresso. We believe that there is one correct way to roast a single coffee, roasting lightly, in such a way as to release its innate qualities and showcase its quality. Roasting coffees darker to aid solubility, especially for espresso, tends to cloud the origin-specific flavour notes which we so value in our approach. This approach means we often have to understand coffee brewing and the effect we can have here, and not necessarily follow brewing guides exactly. Here we provide an outline for brewing using percolation, immersion, and espresso brewing methods. We also recommend resting your coffee after roasting. When coffee is roasted, chemical changes in the beans take place, and one of the byproducts of these changes is Carbon Dioxide gas. This becomes trapped in the bean cell structure, and slowly seeps out over time. This gas makes it difficult to brew coffee, both by causing fizzing out as you attempt to brew coffee, and by dissolving into carbonic acid during brewing, causing off flavours in the cup. However, whatever brewing method you use, the water is a very important factor.Read more
The coffee is first pulped mechanically, removing most of the fruit, as with a white honey process. The parchment coffee and almost gel-like mucilage are then packed tightly into a small fermentation tank, and sealed with almost no oxygen present. As the fermentation starts to occur, carbon dioxide is produced, creating a completely anaerobic environment, and also high pressure within the tank. This affects coffee flavour in two ways. An anaerobic environment favours a very different set of fermenting bacteria and yeast, leading to a dominant lacto-fermentation. The pressure also forces coffee juices into the seed itself, adding more fermentable sugars to continue the process. The coffee is then dried with the mucilage still attached, as with a honey processed coffee. All of this adds layers of complexity to the final cup, and a very clean and juicy character, a very distinctive expression of the Altos terroir.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more