||Costa Rica Monte Brisas Finca Salaca Black Honey Typica 2015
Back for a second year we have the coffee I've affectionately started calling Monty Burns : ) I think I should start by explaining this coffee's long and rather complicated name. The mill where this coffee is processed is called Monte Brisas, and the name of the farm is Finca Salaca. The varietal of the coffee plant is Typica, and the processing method is called “black honey” (more on this later).
This coffee comes from the west valley in the region of Zarcero, both the farm and mill are very near to our friend Gillio and Zarcero's famous mill. The farm (Salaca) is located at 1,750 metres above sea level and is owned by Luis Salazar, who has a total of 12 hectares of land (11 of which are for coffee production).
Although the family have been farming for years, Monte Brisas is a brand new micro-mill in only its third year of production. I visited last year: the family had the tiniest amount of coffee, and had already pre-sold it to another buyer. But Luis promised me he would have something for me this year, and the sample was waiting when I visited.
So, black honey processing...when the coffee cherry is picked you either leave the cherry on (natural processing) or remove it fairly shortly after picking. When you remove the seed from the fruit (the coffee bean as we know it) there's a sticky mucilage, which is usually removed using fermentation for washed processing. This requires an amount of water and can pollute local rivers and streams. Add to this the problem of lack of water in Costa Rica, and the pulped natural and honey process becomes a perfect solution. There is a kind of de-plulper that can remove this mucilage and can be set to different degrees. Honey processing started off as three types, but the range expanded over time: there is white honey (removes the most mucilage), gold honey, yellow honey, red honey and black honey.
The drying of the parchment with all the mucilage still attached has a direct impact on the sweetness of the cup. Black honey is the most complex, rich in body, flavourful, laborious and expensive. It's also the most at risk of over-fermentation. But generally it has a very unique cup profile characterised by its sweetness, enhanced fruit notes and sweet acidity in the taste.
In the cup expect lots and lots of white sugar sweetness alongside a big bite of an ice cream finger, you know the ones...vanilla ice cream sandwiched between thin wafers. The aftertaste is full of sweet and syrupy peaches and apricots, a deliciously sweet cup of coffee.
Country: Costa Rica
Farm: Finca Salaca
Farmer: Luis Salazar
Farm Size: 12 hectares
Coffee growing area: 11 hectares
Altitude: 1,750 m.a.s.l.
Variety: Villa Sarchí, Caturra and Typica
Processing System: Black Honey coffee (Pulped Natural)
Medium to medium dark, from before second to just into it, nowhere else. This one needs to be treated very carefully.
"Quick Look" Guide
White sugar, ice cream finger, peach, apricot, sweet.
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