||Costa Rica ARBAR La Isla San Roque Yellow Honey Kenia 2021
||#SSSSS Limited Editions 2021
Hello everyone, it's finally time! Many apologies for the delays this month and that your #SSSSS is heading out to you so much later than it normally would, but we hope you'll agree it's definitely worth the wait : )
We've experienced delays upon delays with our coffee deliveries and ended up receiving 4 shipping containers in just under 2 weeks, our Warehouse Manager Dave is loving life at the moment. This coffee you're receiving arrived in Stafford yesterday morning and our roasting team have done an amazing job getting it ready for you - it's the very first Costa Rican coffee we're sending out from this container so, as always, you #SSSSSers are getting special treatment!
The Arrieta Family. Cafe ARBAR. Lourdes de Naranjo, Western Valley, Costa Rica
We've been working with Carlos and his family since way back in 2013 and this is a cracking example of the sort of long-term relationship that we are proud of developing with our producing partners. If you read through our Coffee Archive you can see just how far we've come together since our initial meeting - back when we first bought from his group of farms they didn't even have an official name!
The name of their mill ARBAR comes from the combined family names: Carlos ARietta + Maria BARboza = ARBAR. Their children are Yessica, Karen, Esteban & Jose Ignacio. They run everything together, the micromill and 4 small farms, with 1 permanent worker and a few temporary staff during harvest season. This might sound like an awful lot of work to be shared between such a select team but Costa Rican farms tend to be on the smaller side compared to other producing countries. The four farms in the group, all located in the Western Valley region, are: La Casa, El Manatial, El Oasis, and this one: La Isla.
Carlos has been growing coffee for about 40 years and La Isla is the latest project of his. He only started processing his coffee himself at the ARBAR mill from 2014 which meant he hadn't been able to present his coffee to a single buyer previously, this was fortuitous for us as this was how we happened to meet - via our mutual exporter in Costa Rica! Carlos is very active in the local community and they have close relationships with their neighbours - which includes CoE winning producers like Herbazu, Vista Al Valle and Sumava. They operate mostly Organic processes, but aren’t Organic certified and believe in the value of biodiversity on the farms: plants like fruit trees are positioned amid the coffee plants for shade and to help the soil - as well as providing food for the family. We've been lucky enough to visit Carlos and his family multiple times over the years that we've been working together and they are always guaranteed to be wonderful hosts!
This coffee hails from Finca La Isla, which is located at 1400 metres above sea level. The farm is roughly 1.4 hectares in size and is planted with a mixture of Villa Sarchi, Kenia, Geisha, and Ethiopia. Overall this area produces about 3500kg of coffee cherries, which translates to around 700kg of green coffee once processed or ~570kg of roasted coffee once your friendly neighbourhood Roaster gets their mitts on it! This is their latest project and actually belongs to Maria’s niece. Carlos and Maria have agreed an arrangement with her where they will plant and farm the plot and share the profits with her, but it's only just starting to see production in the last few years.
Processing technique and equipment is one way that our long term relationship has benefitted us as buyers as well as Carlos and his family. Back when we first met, Carlos was taking his cherry to a local Co-op to use their depulper and then back to the house to process - this was obviously a lot of extra effort and meant that he couldn't have as much control over the details as he would have liked. That's where we joined the fun! In 2014 after chats with the family, we stumped up the funds for their very own depulper - which was paid back by you lovely lot through a special price per bag on that year's coffee from ARBAR. (http://www.hasblog.co.uk/carlos-gets-a-new-depulper-thanks-to-you) Since then the mill has constantly been updated with additions and changes as they learn how to pulp better every season. The techniques and the skills they are developing are improving their coffee year on year, and it was already a dream when I first encountered it on that fateful cupping table in 2013, so that's really saying something.
This coffee has been processed at the ARBAR micromill using the Yellow Honey process. Honey processing is somewhat similar to a Pulped Natural (but uses less water), falling somewhere in between a Washed and a Natural coffee both in terms of contact between the cherry mucilage and the bean during drying time and in the resulting flavour profile. The outer skin and fruit pulp is removed from the seed (bean) of the coffee inside, and it's left to dry. The colour in the name refers to the amount of sticky fruit that's left on the surface of the seed after depulping - darker indicates more / lighter indicates less. This method can present some risk of over fermentation during processing but water is a precious commodity in this area of Costa Rica, so this method suits the location very well. Carlos definitely has the skills to pay the bills though so no worries about mucking up the Honeys at ARBAR!
There's 1 part of the name of this coffee we're not totally sure about but wanted to tell you what we do know: "San Roque". San Roque applies to all Kenia coffee in Costa Rica - they’re actually all referred to as SR Kenya or San Roque Kenia or some variation of this. We’ve tried to dig into the history of this varietal a bit before, but always struggled to get far - the name San Roque is fairly common, but we believe it comes from where the seedlings were sourced.
An awesome thing about ARBAR is they're now using social media to help spread the good word of the amazing work they're doing so make sure to give them a follow and tag them in any posts about this coffee, know they really love getting to see their coffee out there in the world being enjoyed by you lovely lot : )
Facebook: Cafe Arbar
San Roque Kenya is planted at a few farms in the Western Valley and one flavour which we see in nearly all of them is a crisp zing of lime. It’s present here, along with a intense, white sugar like sweetness which is another hallmark of the varietal (and of Costa Rica too). Interestingly though, there’s a juicy blackberry which sits alongside the lime here - a super classic flavour for Kenya that’s very rare elsewhere. The coffee has a silky body which balances that lively acidity and has a clean, dark chocolate aftertaste.
Country: Costa Rica
Region: Western Valley
Town: Lourdes de Naranjo
Farm: La Isla
Farmer: Carlos Arrieta
Micro mill: ARBAR
Altitude: 1,400 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: San Roque Kenia
Processing system: Yellow Honey
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