The coffee of Costa Rica has long been considered among the best in the world. When the last crop from the country ran out and it was time to select a new one, we tried numerous samples to find one that lived up to our standards. We are excited to share our latest discovery.
“For our new coffee from Costa Rica we selected this one from La Pastora mill in the famed Tarrazú region,” say Brad Kirby, our Director of Coffee. “Clean and sweet, it has a pleasant acidity and light body, while the aroma and flavor contain notes of fine Swiss milk chocolate. We roast it to a light-medium roast to best accentuate its delicate flavors and complexities.”
This coffee originates from the region of Tarrazú, which is located in the central part of Costa Rica and just to the south of San Jose, the capital city. There, coffee trees flourish in volcanic soil on slopes facing the Pacific Ocean side of the country. Coffee is grown at altitudes of 1200-1900 meters and harvested from November to March.
This coffee is grown by a number of small farmers from eight communities in Los Santos area of Tarrazú. They bring their crops to the La Pastora coop mill, which is recognized among Costa Rican producers for its coffee of exceptional quality and has been in existence for more than 50 years. With stringent quality-control measures during processing, high-quality beans are wet-processed (washed) and achieve a standard of excellence that has few equals among Central American coffees.
The coffee industry in Costa Rica dates back to 1779, when seedlings imported from Cuba were planted in the Meseta Central region. The industry grew slowly until the 1840s, when a British sea captain sent several hundred-pound bags of coffee beans home. This led to an appreciation of Costa Rican coffee and the British developed an interest in promoting it. They invested heavily in the country’s coffee industry and the U.K. becoming the principal customer for exports until World War II. Today, the popularity of Costa Rica coffee is evident by the country’s #15 rank among coffee countries, with nearly 1.5 million 60-kilo bags exported.
For more information about carrying our Costa Rica La Pastora Tarrazúor any of the other fine offerings from our Batch 0995 line in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When spring rolls into town, our roasting team turns their attention to the new crops of Costa Rica coffee so that we can begin offering them to customers in July. This year, as usual, we cupped several offerings from the historic coffee region of Tarrazú and its surrounding farms.
We began by cupping the Tarrazú from the Don Roberto estate, which we featured last year, with a few others from the region. The winner in terms of flavor was a coffee from a producer just outside Tarrazú proper and bordering the Palmichal rainforest: Romelia.
The coffee from Romelia performed so well that it has become our go-to Costa Rica coffee for 2016. Today, the Romelia is a popular bean at our Raleigh, NC coffee roasting facilities.
“The coffee from Don Roberto and Romelia are very similar, as to be expected, because the coffee varietals and growing conditions around Palmichal and the Santa Ana and Escazú mountains are very similar,” said Brad Kirby, Director of Coffee for Stockton Graham & Co. and Dilworth Coffee.
“As we discussed the coffee around the cupping table, we were drawn more to the Romelia beans because they produced a bit more of an interesting sweet, orange aroma and flavor,” Brad said.
“When you first brew the Romelia coffee, you notice the aroma of sweet orange zest and honey,” Brad said. “These are two delicate notes that define the coffee in terms of fragrance, flavor and aftertaste. We roast the Romelia coffee a bit lighter to preserve these delicate notes.”
Like most Costa Rica coffees, the Romelia is washed and drum dried. That’s because high humidity in Costa Rica prevents patio drying. This processing method creates a vibrant, yet well-rounded cup.
History of Romelia Coffee from Palmichal
Romelia is named after the sister of one of the first families to plant coffee in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica. That family was the decendents of the beneficiaries of the first land concession granted to José Miguel Cascante Rojas in 1826 just after Costa Rica gained its independence from Spanish rule in 1821 and Mexican rule in 1823.
The land was granted by Costa Rica’s first elected Chief of State, Juan Mora Fernandez, who is considered the grandfather of Tarrazú coffee by giving free land grants to farmers that knew how to grow Costa Rica coffee.
Amid decades of power struggles amongst Costa Rica’s coffee elite, Don José and his son Don Manuel Rojas Arias built a formidable coffee business in the Palmichal region on the western slopes of the Escazú Mountains. In addition to the coffee farm, Don Manuel founded Beneficio Palmichal, a processing coffee processing plant that allowed him to control the quality of his coffee from seed to roast.
Many farmers observed the success Don Manuel had with coffee and followed his lead in converting their sugar plantations into coffee plantations. When Don Manuel passed away in the mid 1900s, he left his farms to his only sister, Romelia, who worked tirelessly to sustain the quality of her family’s coffee.
Doña Romelia had no children to inherit the farm and so she sold it to coffee visionary Don Roberto Montero Castro. As a result, today’s Don Roberto Tarrazú and Romelia from Palmichal are twin branches in the rich history of Costa Rica coffee.
To order our Costa Rica coffee, please call our Customer Care Associates at 800 835 5943 or email email@example.com
Costa Rica has set the standard for Central American coffees. Grown at high altitudes that receive much cooler overnight temperatures and in highly volcanic soil, Costa Rican coffees are known worldwide for producing an exquisite cup.
Tarrazu is the premier region of Costa Rica for coffee. While no single region can guarantee exceptional coffee year-after-year, coffees from Tarrazu consistently stand out for their brightness and clean cups, with hints of light berry and apple cider.
That couldn’t be truer of Stockton Graham & Co.’s Costa Rican Tarrazu, which was grown on the estate of Roberto Montero Castro, high in the mountains that are part of the Talamanca Sierra.
The Don Roberto estate is located at an elevation of 5,000 feet—an altitude that generates the trademark juicy citrus fruit flavor that characterizes the region. However, the bean from the Don Roberto estate is a bit more nuanced, with a complex sweetness that’s balanced with hints of spice. Some also taste a bit of cocoa powder and honey that can be enhanced through skillful roasting.
“With such high standards in Costa Rican coffees to start with, conscientious and frequent cupping generates rewards as we seek out the subtle nuances that makes our Tarrazu stand out among its peers,” Brandon Riggs, the roastmaster for Stockton Graham Coffees, explained.
AROMA: Sweet Fruit and Vanilla, Hints of Spice BODY: Cream, Silky FLAVOR: Citrus Fruit, Sweet and Juicy ACIDITY: Clean, Bright AFTERTASTE: Lingering Balance of Sweet and Spice Notes
A Versatile and Reliable Coffee
“Our Costa Rica Tarrazu is a wonderful coffee that, if brewed properly, is a great fit for any occasion,” said Alex Jeans, a Customer Care Associate and SCAA-Certified Barista. “In fact, due to its complex and nuanced flavor, it is one of our top selling single origin coffees.”
Whether brewing Costa Rica Tarrazu with a commercial drip, French Press or Aero Press, the coffee’s clarity rings through. Just be sure to use the right ratio of coffee to water—roughly 1:16 or 1 gram of coffee per 16 milliliters/grams of water or in other words 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water—and the appropriate grind for your brew method. See our Brewing and Grinding Guidefor specific measurements and grinds for your particular brew method.
“I personally enjoy it best when brewed through a V60, a method that is optimal for bringing out the coffees nuances,” Alex Jeans said. “The V60 is the best way to achieve this coffees smooth creamy body and highlights the flavors of citrus fruit and spice. Such a well-rounded coffee is made to be enjoyed morning, noon and night.”
Growth of Tarrazu Region Coffee
The Tarrazu region is in the center of San Jose province, about 70 kilometers south of the Capital San Jose. The region’s unique location across the continental divide brings warm sunny days and chilly nights to numerous coffee farms across the mountainside. Paired with elevations pushing 2,000 meters above sea level, many of these farms have microclimates ideal for coffee growing.
Along the region’s northern border runs the Pirris River, which is dammed to create the very large Pirris Hydroelectric Plant. South of the river, the region is lush with dark foliage and mountains that yield crystal clear waterfalls into the Talamanca valley. Tarrazu’s capital, San Marcos, is located 1,400 meters above sea level, but is surrounded by peaks up to 3,000 meters.
Tarrazu was founded in the 1820s by inhabitants of the Central Valley who migrated to the southwestern town known today as Los Santos. Originally it was known both as Atarazú or Atarrazú, which led the current Tarrazú for phonetic aspect or a misspelled in ancient official documents spelling. In America, we simplify the name further by removing the accent on the final u. Tarrazu’s three provinces are named after saints: San Pablo de León Cortés (Saint Paul), San Marcos de Tarrazú (Saint Mark), and Santa Maria de Dota.
Tarrazu’s earliest residents were dedicated to growing basic foodstuffs, namely beans, corn and sugar cane. Local farmers started growing coffee in the highland valley in the 1890s. In the last hundred years, coffee production has become the region’s primary economic activity, and avocados are now the region’s second largest food crop.
The Art of Processing
Among all the coffee-growing countries of Central America, none compares to Costa Rica in terms of environmental and processing regulations. Beneficios (mills) are kept immaculately clean per the country’s standard, and every beneficio is obliged by law to respect a series of operating conditions to protect the environment. These conditions are regulated by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment: the Coffee Sector must meet the 7 laws and 4 decrees that protect water, forests, biodiversity and disposal of residual waters. All mills must have a Ministry of Health permit, residual water treatment systems and control of their byproducts.
With strict Costa Rican environmental laws, wastewater from the fermentation tanks is treated with natural bacteria to break down the acidity reducing the pH back to levels that are tolerable for the streams and rivers of the country. By using the wood from pruned old coffee trees, along with the parchment from dry milling, many beneficios are able to fire their mechanical dryers without destroying the natural forests. Some of the more inventive mills actually use the methane gasses produced when the bacteria breaks down the fermented pulp to fire the dryers. And, of course, sun-dried coffees are really just “solar” powered, further preserving the environment around the Pirris Hydroelectric plant.
To order our Costa Rica Tarrazu, call a Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943.
Direct from the La Candelilla Estate in the Tarrazu region, our Costa Rica offering possesses sophistication sought out by specialty coffee fans. This 100% Arabica coffee contains all the bright acidity one expects from a high grown Costa Rican coffee. After the initial rush of brightness, the sweet, creamy body envelops your mouth offering you glimpses of fruit notes. Juxtaposed with mild spices, the clean finish proves you have found a truly wonderful coffee – full of tasting adventures and uniqueness rarely found from this origin. This coffee farm has existed since the early 1900’s when the Mora family began planting coffee seedlings on the property. Mr. Mora’s daughter and husband began fully investing and running the farm in the 1940’s, and only as recently as 2000 did a wet mill appear on the property. Today, under the family’s watchful eye, only the top quality, sun dried beans are exported. Truly this coffee is a work of love and dedication that can be experienced with each sip.
We chose this year’s Tarrazu because it is a little unusual for Costa Rica. It has more nuances, but still contains the vibrant and clean acidity you expect in a high grown Costa Rica bean. The Tarrazu region also received much cooler temperatures at night during this year’s harvest cycle, thus creating a more complex and sweet flavor in the bean… read more
ROASTMASTER’S NOTES AROMA: Sweet Fruit and Vanilla, Hints of Spice BODY: Cream, Silky FLAVOR: Citrus Fruit, Sweet and Juicy ACIDITY: Clean, Bright AFTERTASTE: Lingering Balance of Sweet and Spice Notes
Despite graduating from East Carolina University four short months ago, Reid and myself recently found ourselves in the classroom setting once again, only this time, not as Pirates of ECU, but as students of Stockton Graham & Co.’s Coffee College. With so much to learn about in the world of coffee, we started class with the very basics, beginning with where exactly the beans are grown. Although coffee can be grown just about anywhere with a tropical climate, we learned that there are three main regions that provide the world with a majority of the coffee that we drink. For the next three weeks, I am going to attempt to learn all there is to know about each of these three regions and explain to the best of my (new and rising) knowledge, the specific affects that these regions have on the beans that they produce.
This week’s region is Latin America, and without a doubt it is the largest coffee distribution region in the world. Latin American coffee is grown from southern Mexico, all the way through Central and South America to Peru. It is also very common in the plateaus of Brazil, as well as some Caribbean Islands. In this region there are more than a dozen major countries that contribute to the coffee distribution industry including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and more. The tropical climate and mountainous landscape of Latin America is ideal for growing all types of coffee plants. Ranging from standard-grade Robusta coffee beans to high quality gourmet Arabica coffee beans, this part of the world produces it all.
With the amount of counties in this region that produce coffee, there are some differences and similarities when it comes to growing and harvesting coffee. Central American countries grow their coffee in soil with high amounts of volcanic sediment in it, while traditional South American counties are grown in more of a rainforest environment. Though there are two main growing environments that are very different, the coffee beans are related in the fact that they are all typically grown at a high altitude. With the exception of Brazil, many parts of Central and South American grow coffee beans in the mountains, at highs of 5,000 feet or higher, which give the beans high amounts of acidity and citrus to their flavoring.
Another common characteristic that Latin American coffee beans share is the process that the beans undergo after they are harvested. This process is called wet processing, and it is the process of removing the cherry from the bean, soaking the stripped bean in a ceramic pool for fermenting purposes, and then leaving to dry before removing the thin membrane remaining around the bean. Wet processing also contributes to the amount of acidity and citrus that these beans commonly contain.
Brazil, on the other hand, is a bit unique from the rest of the region when it comes to growing coffee. They tend to grow their coffee at a much lower elevation due to the shorter mountains in the Brazilian landscape. Brazil also typically uses dry processing, which mean they dry the cherries without stripping or soaking the beans. Once the cherry is in a raisin form, the beans from inside the cherry are then collected. The drying processes, as well as the lack of elevation, produce a low acidic and citrus content in Brazilian beans. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we distribute coffee beans from five different Latin American counties, and with those beans, we produce dozens of different coffees, ranging from single origins, to organics, decafs, swiss water processed, and blends. The classic coffee of Latin-America is typically, a bright, lively acidic and a straightforward cup. They provide what for a North American is a “typical” good coffee experience, one that has now come to be a favorite of many all around the world.