In February 2012 we visited Costa Rica to see our friends at Exclusive Coffee as well as our producer partners to choose this years offerings. For the second year we will be offering Miguel Rojas coffee which are grown in the West Valley, more specifically in the micro region Llano Bonito of Naranjo. This year we will have 2 offerings from Miguel, both micro-lots grown on Finca La Palmita, but one in particular is very special.
As always, Costa Rica impresses me with their Micro-Mill revolution which continues to expand and improve. I am seeing better organization, at farm level as well as more dedication to improve quality. These producers have been getting premiums for their coffee for a few years now and are typically re-investing into their mills for efficiency’s and consistency. This is going to be a very good year for the Costa Rican coffees available from Fratello.
Miguel, his son Nelson and their 20 staff harvested a plot of his farm for us at 1700-1750 meters. This plot of land is located in a lower bowl shaped part of his farm which is protected from all sides from the Pacific & Atlantic winds. This plot of land has been called MISO and produced 15 sacks (2280 lbs) of amazing coffee. On all of Finca La Palmita is a mixture of 70% Caturra and 30% Villalobos Typica. A total of 120 sacks are produced on their farm and Fratello Coffee has the top 55 coming to Calgary (exclusive in Canada).
The most interesting geographical attribute, is that this farm is located on a calcareous deposit, which contains high levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. What you notice right away is how the soil had a “sandy-like” texture. These high levels of calcium aid in producing a very hard bean density. Miguel introduced experimental potassium fertilization into this plot of land, which boosted the sweetness of flavor profiles found the cup as well. What was most noticeable was the extreme consistency of red cherries amongst all the trees in this small plot.
Miguel brought in an extra crew of harvesters to pick this entire MISO lot over a 2 day period. After harvesting, Miguel has all of his coffee brought to the famous Helsar Micro Mill. The owner of Helsar, Ricardo Perez has won many awards for the quality of coffee they produce. The pride of his work is noticed at every step from cherry separation, the cleanliness of the mill, the organization/separation of special lots and the brand new dry mill being installed while we were there.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Costa Rica MISO, from Fratello Coffee Roasters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Llano Bonito, Naranjo, Costa Rica
farm: Finca La Palmita (MISO microlot)
producer: Miguel Rojas
elevation: 1700 – 1750 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Typica
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Costa Rica MISO is mildly sweet, with scents of confections, dried fruits, and nuts. Yeah, the aroma is a lot like a trail mix. Brown sugar, raisin, banana chips, and hazelnut are the defining features.
Shazam. Even the first sip has me exclaiming “wow!” Immediately out of the gate, this coffee has a thick and syrupy spiced cherry flavor (like a cherry liqueur without the burn, or a cough syrup without the medicinal taste) and mouthfeel that completely takes over the palate, while a surge of rum, cane sugar, and almonds pushes through the finish.
As it cools, that maraschino cherry flavor gets more and more intense while further flavors of green apple, raisin, cinnamon, shortbread, and a sharp orange juice acidity that zips down the center of the palate before splashing against the back of the throat.
Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
After three coffees from Fratello Coffee Roasters, this time their Costa Rica MISO, I remain impressed with the work Russ and his team are doing and their output.
The MISO provides a pleasant coffee experience with sweet juicy fruits and mild spices as its high notes, but it also has those dried fruits, nuts, and shortbread flavors that keep the cup grounded. So, overall, this is really nicely balanced coffee that is heavy on the palate and light on the belly. Perfect breakfast or light lunch coffee.
What impresses me most, though, is the profile. I’m told that this coffee is roasted for espresso, but the roast is so light that the coffee tastes great as a filter brew. I, for example, made this coffee in my Clever and was blown away at its clarity, flavor, and lack of “roastiness” that is often present in espresso roasts—so don’t let the website fool you when you read that the coffee is meant for espresso.
If anybody near me has an espresso machine and would like to try this coffee as a spro, please let me know soon—I’d love to try it out and I’m more than happy to share the wealth!
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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.