||Costa Rica ARBAR Yellow Honey Kenya 2018
||Varietal: Kenya (SL28)
The ARBAR micro-mill is owned by Carlos & Maria Arrieta Soto, with their house and the milling area right in the middle of the Manantial farm. It’s all laid out immaculately, with the drying beds, depulper and nursery areas laid out around the edge of the house. We’ve been enjoying the fruits of their labour for 5 years now, which we split between the Manatial and Oasis farms. This year, for the first time, we started to see a splitting down of the lots by varietal as well. Before we talk about this lot though, the story of this goes back to that first day I met Carlos in 2013…
I was visiting our exporters in Costa Rica and I had found one lot that was just making me go WOW. It was delicious and I was excited to know more about it - and it just so happened Carlos arrived a few minutes later and I could meet one of the people behind that coffee.
I’m well known as a seasoned and professional green buyer, but this was not one of my better negotiations…
"How much do you want?" I asked.
He replies, "How much do you like it?"
"A lot,” I say.
"I'd like a lot then, please," Carlos says.
Thankfully, we managed to find a price that paid Carlos and his family more than they’d ever been able to earn before and left me my shirt to go home in. Ever since then, we’ve bought ALL of their production and are super proud of this relationship. Now, back to the varietals question. Before they sold to us, the ARBAR production was sold to a big cooperative. For that, it makes sense to grow tried and trusted coffee varieties like Caturra, Catuai and Villa Sarchi. These are all proven to produce a good cup, are relatively resilient and don’t need to be spaced out too much. However, when they started selling to us it gave them a chance to try new things - with our prices giving them a chance to take bigger risks. One of the ways they did this was small plantings of new varietals.
So, by 2015 they already had some planted varietals which aren’t so common in Costa Rica - including Bourbon, Geisha and this one - Kenyan. I’ve been waiting eagerly since 2015 to try this coffee, but it takes about 3 years for a coffee plant to grow big enough to produce a crop, so this is it - their first crop of Kenyan varietal!
Now I know Kenyan varietal sounds a bit odd. Surely it’s not just called “Kenyan”? Well you’re right. It’s thought to be SL28, one of the famous varietals from Scott Labs in Kenya. However, as with many of these coffee varietals, I’m not 100% sure how close to that original SL28 what we have here is - it’s a long journey from Kenya to Costa Rica, and not all of it is well documented. Either way, this plant stock has produced some great results in Costa Rica and that’s what we care about!
As we’re looking at the first year of production, I’m focused on the potential, but already this is a great coffee. It shows some of those typically Kenyan-esq qualities for sure, alongside classic Costa Rican sweetness. I can’t wait to try next year’s and see how the flavours evolve as the plants begin to settle in more, but for now let's enjoy this first taste of something very special.
In the cup this is lime cordial. It's light bodied but sweet, with a hint of raspberry and then a subtle pear on the finish.
Country: Costa Rica
Region: Western Valley
City: Lourdes de Naranjo
Farmer: Carlos Arrieta
Micro mill: ARBAR
Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: Kenya (SL28)
Processing system: Yellow Honey
Medium - through first and slow it down a little, then drop just before second gets going.
"Quick Look" Guide
Lime cordial, raspberry, pear.
Note: Cupping Scores for Sweetness & Flavour are actually 6.5 each, not as above (software limitation, allows whole numbers only)
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