Super clean and juicy. Hints of Cherry, vanilla and honey with a sticky date finish.
Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of Las Lajas micromill are third-generation coffee producers in their family. They inherited their farms from their grandparents, and are known for being among the first to process high-quality Honeys and Naturals in Central America, and for participating in the Cup of Excellence auction in 2009.
Las Lajas is an organic micromill located in Sabanilla de Alajuela in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Organic coffee in Costa Rica is almost nonexistent, and with this caliber of cup makes it one of a kind; they believe in the preservation of the environment hence their organic practices. Las Lajas processes coffee from their family farms’; these lots are fully traceable and separated by day. Water use is minimal, since the coffee is not washed. During the harvest, Francisca will measure the Brix content in the coffee cherry to determine the optimal time to pick the coffee. 21–22% Brix content has been the maximum they’ve seen.
Las Lajas are known to be the first to produce naturals in Costa Rica and are still recognised as offering some of the best honeys and naturals in the region.
It's not difficult to see how clean and organised the mill is from these images. If the fruit quality is good and the necessary care is taken with the processing then the result should be evident in the cup. Las Lajas coffees have been frequently used by the best baristas for their competition coffees.
Las Lajas carries several distinct processes from this mill.
Yellow Honey: 100% mucilage left on, coffee turned hourly on the bed
Red Honey: 100% mucilage left on, coffee several times a day on the bed (less frequently than Yellow Honey)
Black Honey: 100% mucilage left on, coffee turned only once per day
Perla Negra: Natural process, coffee is turned normally on raised beds
Alma Negra: Natural process, coffee turned only a few times a day on raised beds
(The honey process of leaving 100% of the mucilage on in all "levels" of honey is distinctive to Las Lajas. This just shows that terminology can mean various things region to region and farm to farm.)
Coffee in Costa Rica
The first coffee seeds arrived to America in 1720, and at the end of 18th century the first Typica seeds were planted in Costa Rica. At this time, the agriculture in Costa Rica had a domestic focus. In the year 1808, the governor Tomas de Acosta began promoting the cultivation of coffee.
Costa Rica was the first Central American country that established a true coffee industry. The priest Felix Velarde is considered to be the first coffee producer in Costa Rica. In 1821, Costa Rican independence was achieved from Spain, and the municipal councils were the first to promote coffee cultivation with politics that included the delivery of small trees and land concession to whomever wanted to become a coffee producer. In the same year, Costa Rica had 17,000 coffee trees under production, and had already done the first export that consisted of 2 quintales shipped to Panama.
In 1832 the first exportation to Europe was made. In the 1840s, the commerce with Europe as consolidated. In the following years, the production increased year by year. In 1830, the catalan Buenaventura Espinach Gaul, built the first paved patio and the first wet mill located to the south of Cartago. The micromill has become synonymous with Costa Rican coffee production today.
The first varieties planted were Typica or Creole, which was characterized by its high productivity and distinctive acidity.
Today Costa Rica accounts for 1% of the world's total coffee production.
Costa Rican coffees set the standard for washed (wet processed), bright Central American coffees in both the bean and at the mill. Costa Rican coffees are exceptionally high-grown in mostly volcanic soil. These two factors come together to produce a very bright and very clean cup. The best Costas develop an intense sugary sweetness to complement the straight-out brightness. Costa Rican coffees serve as an excellent bright single-origin coffee, and will definitely add life to various blends.
Costa Rica has also coined the phrase “honey processed” for their version of pulped-natural coffees. Honey coffees are coffees dried with all or part of the sugary mucilage still left on the parchment. The result is an intensely sweet and slightly fruity cup. This cup profile is typically about halfway between a fully washed and natural coffee. Costa Rican producers have pushed the boundaries and truly refined in the process like no other country. Much of the rest of the coffee-producing world that is interested in processing experimentation looks to the pioneers in Costa Rica for direction.
The many different regions of Costa Rica produce coffees with subtle, but distinct, differences in the cup.