Costa Rica La Margarita Zalmari Red Honey F1 2013


Bean name Costa Rica La Margarita Zalmari Red Honey F1 2013
Country Costa Rica
Region Region: Orosi, Micro Region: Cachi
Other info Varietal: F1 (Villa Sarchi catimor x Sudan)


This coffee comes from La Margarita estate in Costa Rica, in the Cachi Microregion of the Orosi Valley, which is close to Cartago, and it's owned by Marigold Murray.

In 2000 the Murray family built a micromill called Zalmari inside the farm, where they are able to process all of their own coffee. Since then they have really seen a leap in quality. Two challenges that face the farm is its relatively low altitude when compared to other farms in Costa Rica, and the ongoing problem people have had in central south America with something called Roya.

Roya is very big news in coffee at the moment.

Roya is also known as coffee leaf rust, and is a fungus that has ravaged much of central America this year, thought to be due primarily to drier than normal conditions that some say is associated to the onset of global warming, and at best is due to changing climates in coffee producing areas.

Roya causes the leaves on coffee trees to wither, rot, and eventually takes cherries, and entire branches with it and severely reduce the outturn of the affected coffee plant. Early indications are that this year the crop of most central American countries will be reduced by as much as 40%, so you can understand why this is a hot topic.

But this is not a new problem. In the past, the governments and specialty coffee associations of producing countries have encouraged farmers to plant Catimor, a disease resistant hybrid of Arabica and Robusta. Unfortunately, it turns out that the cup characteristic of Catimor is not for everywhere and everyone, and although we have seen some success with it, it's fair to say we have seen much more disappointment.

Step forward F1, which has showed some amazing promise. It produces about 30% more than Caturra and Catuai, and early indications are that the cup profile is more consistent that some of the Catimors.

The first F1 hybrids research started in the early 90s and resulted from artificial cross-pollination in the lab environment. This came from the work of Dr. Benoit Bertrand working for Cirad in Costa Rica. This is how many new varietals start their life. These pioneer varietals were developed from three types of coffee: Sudan, as the base seems to be the most common; and then using Typica, Mundo Novo, Catuai, Maragogype, Bourbon, Villa Sarchi; and then adding the resistant part of the plant in the Catimor / Sarchimor.

From here many experiments were run (it's thought up to around 150) to find varietals to suit each producing country (each country will have different challenges and needs and this was the first varietal program I have seen to address this).

This version of F1 that we have comes from a splice of Sudan Villa Sarchi, a coffee that was developed for the Costa Rican market and works super well in their unique environment; and Catimor, the varietal we know has resistance and its genealogy in the Robusta species, although this varietal is still seen 100% as an Arabica species.

In the cup this coffee amazed me. Amazed me because it just didn't taste like a honeyed Costa Rican. Dark chocolate, black pepper corns, spicy aftertaste, and a huge body; just perfect for espresso, but complex for brewed coffee.

Micromill: Zalmari
Owner: Marigold Murray
Region: Orosi, Micro Region: Cachi
Altitude: 100 - 1300 masl
Varietal: F1 (Villa Sarchi catimor x Sudan)
Farm: La Margarita
Process: Red Honey

Roasting Information:
Medium to medium dark roast. My preference is just into second crack, first few pops then drop.

"Quick Look" Guide:
Dark chocolate, black peppercorns, spicy aftertaste, huge body, complex.

Good filter?:

Good espresso?:

Cupping notes

Clean cup 6/8
Sweetness 6/8
Acidity 6/8
Mouthfeel 8/8
Flavour 7/8
Aftertaste 6/8
Balance 6/8
Overall 6/8
Correction +36
Total 87

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