||Costa Rica Finca La Pira Anaerobic Fermentation Caturra 2018
La Pira is located in the high altitude Dota valley of the Tarrazu region: an area that was known for producing great coffees. This relatively young estate is only 50 years old and is owned by the founder’s son, Carlos Urena Ceciliano. He has worked the farm for eighteen years; however, he has worked in coffee all his life.
We first found this farm in the Cup of Excellence in 2009, and we were pleased to be reunited with it only recently after a lot of effort and hard work. Two years ago it proved tricky to secure coffee from, stretching both my pocket and patience, but it was well worth it. Thankfully last year and this year things were a little less stretchy and stretchy!
After inheriting the family farm, Carlos worked for many years as a certified organic coffee producer, but he realised doing so was just not possible on this farm. Organic coffee is good, but not possible for everyone. The yield was very, very affected. So Carlos looked for alternatives, while still holding the organic principles very close to his heart. For instance, instead of using chemicals to control the weeds, sheep roam freely amongst the coffee plants and eat the weeds (and strangely leave the coffee plants alone). They work as automatic and mobile 'fertilisation units' (nature’s a wonderful thing). This has eliminated the need for herbicides. This is the kind of thinking Carlos has about coffee.
Costa Rica is a really interesting place for coffee processing, with lots of farms either having their own micromill or sharing one with their neighbours. It was in Costa Rica that the different Honey styles were developed, which we’re increasingly seeing being tried in other countries now. A few years ago, we saw some early experiments with a new style of processing, being called Anaerobic. One of the big factors in this catching on was early success at the Cup of Excellence competition - an Anaerobic style lot from Finca Diamante came 4th in the 2015 competition for example.
As with other processing (like Washed and Honey), everyone does Anaerobic a bit differently. Broadly, the idea is to start in the same way as a Honey, putting the cherries through a depulped to remove the skin and some of the fruit. The beans and whatever fruit is left are then put into a container along with a little water and the container is sealed.There’s a lot of variation and debate about what goes on during this, but generally the idea is to reduce the amount of air the fermentation process has access to.
Fast forward to 2018 and I was on La Pira, one of my all time favourite farms to visit. Now Carlos at La Pira very much has his own ideas about how to do things on the farm and mill. As an outsider, they can sometimes seem odd, but when you ask him what he’s doing there’s always a smart reason behind it. He had a big container which grabbed my attention, so I asked what he was doing - it was his version of the Anaerobic style. As I said already,Carlos does things his own way, so whilst it started pretty much as I described already, he did a couple of extra things. One was to add some leaves and other organic bits from the farm in, to make sure that whatever yeast and microbes which he normally gets in his Honey process would still be there in the sealed container. The other things was to add some Cinnamon. Now, cuppers in Costa Rica have came to associate the Anaerobic processing style with a cinnamon like spice flavour in the coffee - so it makes senes for Carlos to try boosting this even more.
Fast forward a few months and I’ve convinced Carlos to let me have this coffee and we’ve air freighted it out especially. We open the vacuum packed bag of green coffee and WHAM - cinnamon. This was a scary moment - what would it actually taste like? Well, it’s a lot more subtle than you’d expect. The cinnamon drops right down once it’s roasted to give an elegant, complex and balanced cup. There’s everything familiar to La Pira - white sugar, lemon and a super clean and well structured coffee - but then a delicate kick of cinnamon on the finish.
In the cup you might think someone's added some extra sugar - it's all white sugar up front and then lemon icing. There's a subtle sweet cinnamon spice edge on the finish which will pull you back for more.
Country: Costa Rica
City: Santa María de Dota
Farm: Finca La Pira
Farmer: Carlos Ureña Ceciliano
Farm size: 7 hectares
Altitude: 1,650 m.a.s.l.
Processing system: Anaerobic Fermentation
Medium - go nice and steady through first crack and then drop it.
"Quick Look" Guide
White sugar, lemon icing, cinnamon.
Note: Cupping Score for Overall is actually 7.5, and Acidity, Aftertaste & Balance are all 6.5, not as above (software limitation, allows whole numbers only)
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