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 Yellow Honey method. The mucilage from the coffee cherry is left to dry, with this batch a “yellow” process turned several times a day. The development of different profiles — yellow, red, black, pearla negra and alma negra — is unique to this finca. The difference being the frequency at which the drying cherries are turned each day.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Costa Rica Las Lajas, from Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca San Luis
producer: Oscar Chacon
elevation: 1300 – 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai
process: yellow honey
The aroma of the Costa Rica Las Lajas is sweet and fragrant. It’s mildly roasty, but there are scents of cocoa powder, nuts, citrus, and florals.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee, again, it’s mildly roasty and I’m tasting some earthy elements. But those flavors are quickly replaced by sweet, creamy milk chocolate, toffee, and macadamia. The cup rests in this mildly sweet sugary/nutty zone for quite a while; I even start thinking this is all the coffee has to offer, before it bursts to life with flavors of juicy cherry, zesty lime, chamomile, honeysuckle, and lilac.
I recently moved from the big, bustling City of Chicago to a quiet suburban area in far-north Illinois. Being a coffee lover, I’m sure you can empathize when I tell you that one of my biggest concerns was the lack of high-quality coffee in my new surroundings. Going from Chicago—where there are a handful of world-class specialty roasting outfits—to this area, where there is one coffee roaster in the whole county; that one roaster being Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters, in Crystal Lake.
I had been eager to stop in for a visit from the first day I moved north, wanting to give their coffee a try. I was very surprised to find that they had such an impressive lineup of offerings on their shelves; I mean, they roast some really special, renown coffees. After speaking with their head roaster, and hearing him talk about how he’s in a unique position with his clientele—wanting to roast in a way that does right by the coffee but also in a way that does right by their customers (a mixed demographic of connoisseurs—snobby folks like me and Folgers drinkers and everyone in between)—I have to confess that I was even more surprised by how tasty their Costa Rica Las Lajas is.
I’ve had this coffee a few times here at the Table and it seems like every time I’ve had it it was a completely different cup. And that remains true for Conscious Cup Coffee’s take on this beloved bean. This is a really special coffee and Conscious Cup really did it well, roasting it in such a way that does right by the coffee and the consumer. A very tasty coffee with a very unique profile.
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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.