Tres Ríos is the capital city of La Unión Canton in Cartago Province, Costa Rica. Sitting at an elevation of 1,345 meters above sea level, this mountainous area is know as one Costa Rica’s best coffee growing regions.
Unfortunately, coffees from this remarkable region are becoming increasingly scarce as many estates have sold their land to developers, but quality coffee is still a major export.
Wet and dry milled at the Tres Rios facility, the coffee is then cleaned and bagged at Coricafe’s dry mill in San Jose.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Costa Rica Tres Rios, from Barefoot Coffee Roasters in San Jose, California.
region: Tres Rios, La Union, Costa Rica
farm: Coricafe Dry Mill
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1345 – 1600 meters above sea level
cultivars: Mondo Novo, Villa Sarchi, Caturra, Catuai
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance
The aroma of the Costa Rica Tres Rios is really sweet, almost decadent. Scents of cocoa, brown sugar, and creamy vanilla waft out of the cup, followed closely by tart red fruits and citrus.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, it’s those sugary confection flavors that I taste right away as they flow over my tongue like a sweet, creamy river. However, it’s not cocoa that I detect as I did in the aroma; rather, I’m tasting salted caramel and toffee—the brown sugar and vanilla, too.
It’s not too long before the coffee starts to taste fruity and tart; it’s cooling off, but these flavors are coming on pretty strong and the coffee is still pretty hot. Raspberry, spiced cherry, zesty orange rind, and tangy rhubarb pie. As the coffee cools even further, all of these individual notes congeal, becoming one indecipherable tangy/sweet flavor, but one that lifts in the tail end of each sip to reveal dark, bittersweet chocolate and macadamia in the finish; whatever clarity the coffee had up front (and it wasn’t much) is gone.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Barefoot Coffee Roasters’s Costa Rica Tres Rios is an interesting and complex coffee; intricate, intensely flavored, bright, lively, dynamic, nicely balanced, but not necessarily a coffee with great clarity. Which, of course, isn’t to say that it’s not a delicious coffee to sip—because it is. It just happens to be a coffee that doesn’t have any clear, obvious flavor notes; it’s a brightly colored menagerie of sweet and tart sugars, confections, savories, and tropical fruits.
And, to be honest, this coffee is something of a rarity for Costa Rican coffees; while a lot (not all, but a lot) of Costa Rican coffees are nuttier and collapse into soft, mellow fruits and sugary confections, the Tres Rios jumps all over the palate, dancing and sparkling over the taste buds.
And in an era when Central American coffee farmers are struggling not only to produce really high-quality crops, but any crops at all, Costa Rica’s Tres Rios was a real treat.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.