Thumbnail Filmstrip of Costa Rica El Pastor Villalobos Red Honey Images
About Costa Rica El Pastor Villalobos Red Honey
Arrived end of August 2021, new crop in grainpro.
While we have never offered coffee from the El Pastor farm, the producer and
wetmill should be familiar to regular customers: Hector Bonilla, owner of the
Don Mayo Micromill. Hector also owns the Bella Vista farm, whose coffee we
regularly offer as San Francisco 1900 (the lot name and elevation where the
coffee is grown). El Pastor (The Shepherd) is a new farm in the La Pastora micro
region in San Marcos Tarrazu, and sits at 1800-1900 meters above sea level. We have in the past been asked how we choose our coffees -
generally we are sent samples which we roast, then blind cup. These cuppings
usually compare like coffees; ones from the same region, ones with similar
processing methods, ones from the same farm but from different plots, etc.
Coffees are scored and discussed among the cuppers, who do not know which coffee
is which until a selection has been made. Blind cupping allows the coffee to
advocate for itself; cuppers cannot base a decision on a favorite farm or
producer. We bring this up in regards to the El Pastor farm, as it stood out from a large selection of
Costa Rican coffees, and was chosen even before we knew who produced it. This
speaks to the care Hector takes at every step of production.
Villalobos variety, also called Villa Sarchi and La Luisa is a natural mutation of a Bourbon population with a single-gene mutation that causes the plant to grow smaller (called “dwarfism’). The variety was discovered in Costa Rica in the 1950s or 1960s in the northwestern region of the province of Alajuela, and has subsequently undergone pedigree selection (selection of individual plants through successive generations) there. This varietal is known for its ability to thrive in high altitudes and is well adapted to areas where wind is prevalent.
This coffee is a red honey process, and a brief explanation of the processing is required to understand the terminology. Since the advent of the micro milling machines, most notably 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 they 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 the coffee is fully washed. When a tiny amount of pulp remains it is called yellow honey. A little more pulp: red honey (like this coffee), a lot: black honey. Nowhere is machinery in greater use than in Costa Rica where numerous farmers have gone from selling their cherry to large wetmills to processing their own coffee and selling the coffee under their name. To do this requires a keen understanding of growing and processing, so everyone is equipped to join the party.
- Farm: El Pastor
- Farm Altitude: 1800-1900 Masl
- Washing Station: Don Mayo
- Producer: Hector Bonilla
- Region: Tarrazu
- Micro-Region: La Pastora
- Coffee Variety: Villalobos
- Processing: Red Honey
Cup Characteristics: Aromas of grape musk, melon and cedar. Flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, orange/cream. Gentle mouthfeel.
Roasting Notes: This is a high grown, hard and durable bean that can withstand higher heat. It can be roasted throughout the entire color range but lighter roasts favor delicate fruit flavors and nuances. Coffees like this are best enjoyed by having the roast ended before second crack commences in our opinion.
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.