Region: Chirippo Brunca
Farm(er): Finca Piedra Alta
Varietal: Red Catuai
Altitude: 1800 m
Tasting: Sweet, Strawberry, Brownie
This is an SHB EP grade natural processed microlot from Finca Piedra Alta in the Chirripó micro-region of southern Costa Rica. THE PRODUCERS: Finca Piedra Alta is a 4ha farm owned and operated by the Araya Acuña family near the village of La Piedra de Rivas in the micro- region of Chirripó. This Red Catuai microlot is grown at altitudes of 1,850masl. The Araya Acuña family has been dedicated to agriculture for generations; from vegetables and blackberries, to cattle farming. However, the steepness of their ground and low productivity for some of these crops compelled the family turn Piedra Alta into a coffee farm to showcase the excellent altitude and growing conditions for coffee. The success of this transition came from a combination of experience and passion from the parents, Mario and Rosita, and a matching enthusiasm and youthful entrepreneurship from their sons and daughter. This coffee is processed at the Café Rivense del Chirripó micromill Café Rivense del Chirripó is a family micromill founded by Régulo Ureña and Isabel Rojas in 2005. During their formative years, the family had to fight hard with many challenges: low international prices, lack of information on processing coffee, and financing for coffee projects. To setup this project in a region not known for specialty coffee had their neighbors predicting that they would fail. However through perseverance, faith in the project and lots of hard work the Ureña Rojas family to continue through a long road to be recognized as specialty coffee producers. It’s fair to say their dedication and hard work paid off. In 2019 one of their microlots placed 5th in the Cup of Excellence; the first from the Brunca region to place in the COE top ten. THE PROCESS: This is naturally processed and dried on raised beds. Only the ripest cherries are selected to ensure high sugar content. These are transported dry and transferred immediately onto raised African beds where they are sun-dried for an average of 22-25 days. THE REGION: The Chirripó micro-region is developing a name for itself in the specialty coffee scene thanks to its high altitude – ranging from 1,300 to over 2,000masl – the rich of the soils, and fresh environment. It is located between two very high mountains: Cerro de la Muerte (3,491m) and Cerro Chirripó (3,820m., the highest in Costa Rica), the valley between these mountains creates a unique microclimate which is ideal for coffee cultivation. In recent years, the potential for specialty coffee the Chirripó micro-region has developed dramatically. This has contributed to an increase of land planted with coffee and it is projected that it will continue increasing in the coming years.
Farm(er): Santa Isabel
Varietal: Caturra and Pache
Altitude: 1400-1600 m
Tasting: Lime, Kiwi, Snow Pea
Located near the town of San Cristóbal Verapaz, in the cool, rainy reaches of Cobán, Guatemala, Finca San Isabel is situated on 300 acres of high, but relatively level, fertile land. Finca San Isabel was first acquired by Luis Valdes II’s great-grandfather in 1875, when the land was granted to the Valdés family by Guatemala’s President; however, the farm was passed out of the hands of the family when it was inherited by a nephew who sold it to a third party. It took time for the farm to return to the Valdés family, who took charge again in 1960 when Luis Valdes I purchased it, bringing it back into the family. He started the coffee plantation in 1965.
After harvesting, the red cherries are taken to the farm’s receiving tanks by truck or – if at walking distance – by foot. They are then mechanically pulped. Coffee is fermented for up to 48 hours and is covered at night to maintain constant temperatures. After fermentation, the coffee is washed and then soaked in clean water for 24 hours to remove any traces of mucilage before being dried. All coffee at Finca Isabel is dried for at least one day on the patios – though full patio drying is only possible towards the end of the harvest, when the risk of rain is reduced. Usually, after spending one day on the patio, the coffee is stored overnight in wooden boxes before being moved to the greenhouses to dry between 15 and 30 days, or until a minimum of 30% humidity is reached. Much of the coffee is then finished in guardiolas according to a very strict and controlled drying schedule. Coffee is rotated in these mechanical driers at no more than 40°C and is rested between dryings to stabilise humidity. Once the parchment coffee reaches a constant 15% humidity, it is rested for at least 21 days in the warehouse before being delivered to the dry mill for milling. Santa Isabel trains and employees 40 permanent workers year-around; up to 500 seasonal labourers are brought in for the coffee harvest. Wicho has commented that although many farms in the region find it increasingly difficult to secure labour for the entirety of the harvest, Santa Isabel has a stable and reliable work force, despite their reputation for being very demanding with regards to selective picking. In addition to paying fairly, a picker at Santa Isabel can harvest up to 160 pounds of cherry a day, which means many of the same workers come back year after year!
Farm(er): Beyene Dore
Altitude: 2000 meters
Tasting: Raspberry Jam, Cherry Starburst, Black Grape, Lime Juice
This natural processed coffee, meaning that the fruit was left on the seed as it dried, is a grade 1 coffee. Grade 1 is the highest grade of coffee that you can get in Ethiopia. Enjoy drinking!