I am nearly finished with my arbitrary 50 Roasters from 50 States project, in which I buy coffee from at least one roaster from every state in the Union; and today’s coffee gets me that much closer, as I cross Delaware off the list.
I can’t remember when Brandywine Coffee Roasters first popped on my radar, but I do remember that their packaging and branding is what attracted me. I love the illustrations and their wax stamped monogram that decorates every bag they sell. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a gimmick. Besides their branding, though, I’ve heard from hundreds of reputable folks within the specialty coffee community – people who I really trust – sing Brandywine’s praises. So they’ve been in my sights for a while now.
NOTE: As a quick disclaimer before I get into the review, however, I’m a little disappointed in myself that I bought this particular coffee. The name was unfamiliar to me and the price point was good, so I went with it – not realizing that this is a coffee that I’ve had a half-dozen times or more (aka, the Costa Rica Las Lajas). Be that as it may, this coffee is a contender for my all-time favorite; and it’s one I’ve had so often and am so familiar with, that it will be interesting to see how Brandywine approached it.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re cupping the Costa Rica Red Honey Cumbres de Poas, from Brandywine Coffee Roasters in Wilmington, Delaware. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of Costa Rica Las Lajas Micromill are third generation coffee producers in their family. They inherited their farms from their grandparents and are known for being one of 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 non-existent 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 coffee is not washed. During the harvest Francisca will measure the brix contents in the coffee cherry to determine the optimal time to pick their coffee. 21 – 22% brix content has been the maximum they’ve seen.
Las Lajas carries several distinct processes from this mill. The coffee we’re drinking today is processed via the Red Honey method. The mucilage from the coffee cherry is left to dry, with this batch a “red” process turned several times a day. The development of different profiles — yellow, red, black, pearla negra and alma negra — is unique to this farm. The difference being the frequency at which the drying cherries are turned each day.
region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca San Luis
producer: Oscar Chacon
elevation: 1300 – 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai, Villa Sarchi
process: red honey
The aroma of this Costa Rica Las Lajas is exactly what I was hoping it would be, based on previous experiences with this coffee; it is intensely bright, sweet, and fruit-forward, accentuated by scents of red fruits, honey, perfumed florals, and spices.
This is a fairly light-bodied coffee, with a complex juicy and supple mouthfeel. The first few sips of the cup are immediately bright and vibrant, a little tart even, as the coffee comes lazily rolling over the tongue with a jelly-like mouthfeel, being characterized by strawberry preserves and Gala apple, and supported by a backbone of nougat and marzipan. As it cools off, its red fruit flavors intensify, becoming much more pronounced, prominent, and juicy as they gush all over the palate, totally drowning my taste buds in flavors of sweet strawberry, Rainier cherry, and tart rhubarb.
What’s really grabbing my attention, though, is the coffee’s finish; after all of that red fruit juice rolls off the tongue, my palate is left with a spicy lingering finish that is surprisingly (shockingly) reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer: roasted malt, spices (cinnamon, clove, coriander), fruit, and caramel.
What were your thoughts of this one? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome! Feel free to enter a comment below.
UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ALL PRODUCTS REVIEWED ARE UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS FROM THE PRODUCT MANUFACTURER.
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.