||Costa Rica Finca Licho Honey Pacamara 2017
I first bought coffee from Finca Licho from a Cup of Excellence auction many, many years ago in 2007, where it finished 4th. This year we welcome Licho as a farm back for the ninth time and for the very first time ever we have a Pacamara!
The yellow honey Villa Sarchí / Caturra Licho lot is a coffee that I feel shows our development as a roaster over the years. First we bought this coffee in the Cup of Excellence program (a great way to meet a grower), then we bought it from an import broker; they helped us bring in this coffee because we are a small coffee buyer. Then we bought directly from them. Then, three years ago, I went out to the farm and did the deal on the farm with the brothers. I love the fact that last year I walked onto the farm after cupping a particular lot in the exporter's office, asked how much they wanted, and there was a short conference. They came back and told me, then we shook hands. Then we got back into the 4x4 and drove away. That year we agreed a European-exclusive deal with them for this coffee, and this year we continue the close work we have been doing with them.
Grown by the Aguilera brothers in the province of Naranjo, in the volcanic Northern Cordiles corridor of the Western Valley, this coffee is cultivated at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level. Most of their coffee is of the Villa Sarchi variety, native to the area and excellent in the cup. Villa Sarchi is a Bourbon mutation (similar to Caturra and Pacas) found originally in Naranjo, West Valley. It is a dwarf variety with short internodes and usually higher-yielding production. There is also a little Caturra (around 30%) in this lot.
This coffee is honey processed, which is like the pulped natural method, so the fruit is removed from the seed of the coffee bush and left to dry. The main difference is that there is no water involved when the cherry is removed, so mucilage sticks to the bean. This can be dangerous, but it's necessary in these parts of Costa Rica where water is limited: in this area of Naranjo water is a precious commodity, so this method suits the location very well.
The coffee ends up clustering whilst drying because there is so much mucilage. So the coffee either needs to be turned regularly to stop this happening, or it has to be broken up. Over-fermentation can happen at this stage and you can end up with a not-so-good cup, but the Aguilera brothers are well-versed in this method and are some of the most skilled in Costa Rica.
Want to know a little more about honey processing? Here's a video you might enjoy!
The Aguileras are a family of 12 brothers and sisters who are second-generation coffee producers in the West Valley. (Hermanos is used to describe mixed male and female siblings in Spanish, but literally translates to "brothers" in English.) Their father was one of the first coffee growers in the area, and planted his farm 70 years ago: Neighboring farmers warned him that coffee wouldn't grow there, but now the area is rich with coffee lands. His children, the Aguilera Brothers, work together to produce coffee: Most of the siblings own farmland, and they co-manage the micromill they installed eight years ago, which they built with the earnings from their fourth-place Cup of Excellence win in 2007 where I first found them!
Licho has recently started up a nursery in which they are growing many different varietals, including Gesha and SL-28 (yeah of course I'll do my best to get my hands on them whenever I can!!!!) as well as Bourbon and Villa Sarchi. They're aiming to grow "a balance of good-quality and rust-resistant varieties."
In the cup expect fresh nectarine acidity at the beginning, where you think its going to be sharp and crisp. Then it takes a speedy right turn into white sugar and candyfloss with a syrupy mouthfeel that finishes with poached pear.
Country: Costa Rica
Region: Western Valley
Nearest city: Naranjo de Alajuela
Farm: Finca Licho
Producers: Aguilera Family
Farm Size: 28.00 Hectares
Coffee growing area: 9.10 Hectares
Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
Processing system: Honey
Medium - go slowly through first crack, drop in the gap before second crack starts.
"Quick Look" Guide
Nectarine, white sugar, candyfloss, poached pear.
Note: Cupping Scores for Acidity, Mouthfeel, Balance & Overall are actually 6.5 each, not as above (software limitation, allows whole numbers only)
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