About Costa Rica Brumas del Zurqui El Beneficio Geisha Natural
Arrived mid-August, new crop in grainpro. We have offered coffee from the Brumas del Zurqui micromill in the past, and were always impressed by the care and attention the owner, Juan Ramon Alvarado, takes with his coffee processing. The mill was established in 2004 on his El Beneficio farm, and processes coffees from several other farms. Juan Ramon is considered a pioneer in honey coffee, which involves analyzing sugar levels in coffee and the amount of mucilage left on the coffee bean after the cherry has been removed. All coffee cherry coming through the micromill is either honey or natural processed.
A brief explaination of coffee processing is required to understand the terminology. Since the advent of micro milling machines, most notably that developed by Penagos in Colombia, small farms have the ability to process their own coffee for a somewhat modest cost of entry. These machines use pressurized water mist to strip away the outer skin of the coffee cherry, and can remove pulp (the fruit surrounding the coffee husk) to a fine tolerance, leaving selective amounts of pulp to dry on the husk. When all the pulp is removed it is fully washed. When a tiny amount remains, it is called yellow honey; when a little more remains it is considered red honey, and a lot remaining is black honey. Neither the skin nor the pulp being removed results in a natural processed coffee (like this one). Nowhere is this machinery in greater use than Costa Rica, where numerous farmers have gone from selling their cherry to large wetmills to processing their own coffee and selling it under their name.
Geisha is an heirloom varietal from Ethiopia that produces a blue-green elongated coffee bean that is especially aromatic and floral. Price Peterson, who owns Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama, experimented by planting it some years ago along with a broader group of varietals. The result was the rediscovery of a great cultivar with extreme fruitiness and floral scents and flavors, but with balance and finesse not seen in other coffees. Coffee farmers in other countries soon followed suit, and the varietal regularly takes home awards in Cup of Excellence competitions held throughout the world.
- Province: Heredia
- Canton: San Isidro
- District: San Francisco
- Altitude: 1500-1600m above sea level
- Coffee variety: Geisha
- Processing: Natural Process
- Farm: El Beneficio
Cup Characteristics: Mildly floral aroma with milk chocolate and a hint of cinnamon. Black pepper and black tea tannins. Orange and tangerine flavors on cooling. Additional notes of black cherry, black currant, dried fruit, green apple, green pepper, hazelnut and malt.
Roasting Notes: Geisha coffees need to be roasted on the light side in order to preserve their floral nature. Roast them too much and it will dissipate and much that you paid for will be lost. Let the coffee get fully past first crack, but if your roaster allows it, kick the heat down to nearly zero once first crack gets going and allow the coffee to slowly develop. You don't want to take this too close to second crack.
Costa Rica coffee facts:
Population (2006): 4.1 million People
Coffee Production: 1.7 million bags (60 kg)
Country bag capacity: 150 pounds
Domestic Consumption: 380,000 bags
Coffee Export: 1,320,000 bags
Cultivated Area: 82,500 Hectares (203,775 acres)
September to February
Arabica Introduced: Coffee was first introduced into Costa Rica in 1779 from Cuba. First exportation was in 1820.
Farms: About 32,000, over half are small farms (less than 1 hectare).
Specialty Coffee Regions: Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Central
Valley, Pacific Central, South Pacific
Botanical Varietals: Mondo Nuevo, Hibredo/Tico, Villa Sarchi, Geisha, Caturra, Catui
Comments: Coffee is grown in Costa Rica on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes at altitudes between 1600 and 5400 feet. The highest grade is called Strictly Hard Bean, grown at elevations over 3900 feet. Costa Rica produces some exceptional coffees, renowned for their brilliance, balance and complexity.