Royal New York

Coffee Analysis: Costa Rica Cumbres del Poas Yellow Honey Micro Lot RNY#43977

This coffee is one of our most exciting microlots from Costa Rica this year. We have been lucky enough to partner up with these folks for 5 years. This coffee consists of Catuai, Caturra and Villa Sarchi varietals, is grown at 1500masl and is a Honey Processed coffee. In particular, this coffee is considered a yellow honey. The coffee is de-pulped, leaving a small amount of mucilage behind, and is dried in 8-10 days. Yellow honeys tend to have increased clarity and acidity, but a lighter body than red and black honeys. This coffee is grown in Sabanillia de Alajuela, in the Valle Central (or Central Valley) region of Costa Rica.

Check out this blog for more information on Costa Rican coffee.

This coffee comes to us from Dona Francisca and her husband Oscar Chacon of the Las Lajas micro mill (Cumbres del Poas.) Las Lajas was one of the first ‘micro-mills’ in Costa Rica back in 2006, and they were also some of the first pioneers of high-quality honey and natural process Central American coffees. The catalyst that led them to starting experiments with special processing was a massive earthquake in 2008, which cut off all access to electricity. It forced them to ‘get creative’ with the resources they had, and led them to naturally and pulped-naturally process their coffee that year. Amazingly enough, these special processes amplified the quality of their coffee and became the beginning of the beautiful high-end microlots we receive from them year after year.

Honey Processing in Costa Rica

One of the other factors that contribute to the quality of the lots coming from Las Lajas is that they measure the brix content in the coffee cherry to determine the best time to pick their coffees to obtain the utmost sweet and fruit forward profile.

We also recently had a ‘RNY Lab Community Meeting’ with Francisca and Family discussing the background on Las Lajas Mill, processing and variety experiments, COVID-19 logistical challenges and long term effects of the pandemic on quality. The recording of the chat can be found here.

With this coffee, we knew that we wanted to highlight the acidity, sweetness, and complexity we expect from Las Lajas. When roasting we planned for a lower development percentage and shorter roast time, to try and capture more white sugar and acidity. The bean also was quite dense so we knew that we could be a bit more aggressive with the heat application to speed up the roast.

Roast captured on Stronghold Square

We did 3 different roasts on the Stronghold S7:

Roast #1: We started with an average charge temperature, and a slow and steady decrease in heat application, leading to 15.9% development, and a total roast time of 9:13 with a medium drop temperature. On the cupping table, this roast had aromatics of floral, rose, apricot, sugar, red wine and bergamot with flavors of cherry, pineapple, mango, red fruit, white sugar, and florals. It had sparkling acidity, a light pleasant body and a limeade finish.

Roast #2: We used a slightly higher charge temperature. We kept the heat application high until right before yellowing and then applied a slow decline. this led to 13% development and a total roast time of 8:00 with a slightly higher, but still middle of the road roast temperature. On the cupping table this coffee had aromatics of red fruits, dark chocolate, peach, and florals and had flavors of cherry, pineapple, sugar, bergamot and tangelo. The body was slightly watery with citric and malic acidity.

Roast #3: We used a slightly higher charge temperature again, keeping heat application pretty high with a steep drop after yellowing continuing through first crack. This resulted in 13.8% development, an end time of 8:20 seconds and a medium ending temperature. On the cupping table this coffee had aromatics of nectarine, cherry, chocolate, toffee, florals and intense orange. It had flavors of cocoa, florals, cherry and raspberry, with pineapple finish. This roast was a touch less complex than the other two but cohesive and light body.

Roast 1, our favorite in a notNeutral in a MENO Cupping Vessel

This coffee is destined for pour-over, where we could accentuate all of the character in this coffee, although it could also be delicious in an automated gravity brewer as well. We chose the notNeutral Lino brewer, to enhance the clarity and acidity in this complex microlot coffee.

We started out with a wider ratio (1:18 coffee to water) to try and capture all of the subtle complexity of this coffee. Specifically we used 22g of coffee with 400ml of water, ground on 24 on the Baratza Virtuoso Grinder, using small quick pours with a final drip-out time of 2 minutes 50 seconds. This led to a brew that was very light and sweet, with notes of lime and starfuit and a quick finish. This brew was quite yummy, but we knew there was more there. We chose to highlight the body and intensify the flavor experience a bit by tightening the ratio to 1:16 and adjusting the grind to 25 on our grinder. This is to keep the extraction comparable with a slight increase the amount of coffee we used.

Final brew bed in a notNeutral GINO Dripper

Final Recipe:

25g of coffee (6 days off roast) ground on 25 on a Baratza Virtuoso burr grind and 400ml of filtered water at 210F.

-8 – 50g pours finishing the pouring process at 2:30, with the final drip-out being 3 minutes.

The final cup was much more complex, vibrant and juicy. Flavors of raspberry, white sugar, white grape, lychee and starfruit with a lingering limeade finish.

The coffee is currently available for purchase here.

Final extraction captured on VST CoffeeTools app

Zoey Thorson

Coffee Pro/Veteran Educator. Over 10+ years of teaching a wide variety of coffee disciplines to a diverse student base around the world. Q-Grader and SCA Authorized Specialty Trainer. In 2019 Zoey became the Director of Education for The Lab by Royal NY. Zoey is friendly, approachable and informative with a vast knowledge base...come take a class at The Lab and see for yourself.