||Costa Rica Monte Brisas Finca Salaca Typica Black Honey 2014
So we need to start by explaining this coffee's long and complicated name. The mill where this coffee is processed is called Monte Brisas, and the name of the farm is Finca Slaca. The varietal of the coffee plant is Typica, and the processing method is called “black honey” (more on this later).
This is a brand new coffee for us, and it 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 m.a.s.l. 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 what's this 'black honey' processing?” I hear you ask. Well, 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 sweet treacle and toffee. There's a black plum acidity that's very very clean. The aftertaste is of black grapes that have been sweetened many many times.
Farm: Finca Salaca
Farmer: Luis Salazar
Country: Costa Rica
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
Treacle toffee, black plum, very clean, black grape, super sweet.
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