Last year, the Table was fortunate enough to post a very special international article when I reviewed a coffee from Canada’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. However, I had that coffee poured for me at The Wormhole, in my hometown of Chicago. So – not really, truly “international” I suppose.
However, this past Saturday, while in Dublin, Ireland, I popped into what I suppose is the world-famous 3FE (Third Floor Espresso) – its owner, Colin Harmon, is certainly internationally-renown – and sampled a coffee from the England-based Has bean Coffee.
So, at the very least, today marks a very special transatlantic edition of The Table.
Finca de Licho coffee farm is located in the lush valleys high up in Costa Rica’s volcanic northern cordilleras. Felipe Aguilera González now runs the farm with his brothers, but his father Edgar Aguilar Bonilla began growing coffee at Finca de Licho in 1960.
Grown in the region of Naranjo by the Aguilera brothers, it is cultivated at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level. The varietal is carefully selected Villa Sarchi (a rare, Costa Rican heirloom variety), which is combined with some Caturra (around 30%).
This coffee is honey processed, which saves valuable local water resources and also preserves more of the bean’s natural sugars to produce a naturally sweeter coffee. This method of processing the coffee is sort of like the pulped natural method, so the fruit is removed from the seed of the coffee bush and left to dry. The main difference being that when the cherry is removed there is no water involved so mucilage sticks to the bean. This can be dangerous, but it’s necessary in these parts of Costa Rica where water is limited; in this area of Naranjo water is a precious commodity so this method suits the location very well.
Whilst drying, the coffee ends up clustering because there is so much mucilage so it either needs to be turned regularly to stop this happening or it has to be broken up. Over-fermentation can happen at this stage and you can end up with a not so good cup. But the Aguilera brothers are well versed in this method and are some of the most skilled in Costa Rica.
Finca de Licho was ranked fourth in Costa Rica’s 2007 Cup of Excellence competition and was also awarded one of only four Presidential Awards given at the competition.
origin: Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca de Licho
elevation: 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Villa Sarchi, Caturra
process: honey processed
The aroma of the Costa Rica Finca de Licho is sweet and fragrant. It has a very lovely milk chocolate scent, laced with notes of berries, citrus, nuts, and lilac. Very wonderfully classic Costa Rican aroma.
The flavors up front are every bit as delightful. The notes in the aroma are very organic, rustic, and earthy – very natural aromas; the flavor notes, on the other hand, are more confectionary or bakery-based. Chocolate ganache and honey immediately greet the palate up front, spreading a thick, cake batter-y bed over the palate. This chocolate and honey is laced with notes of buttered scone, cranberry, brown sugar, pistachio, and tea-like floral play that floats in over the top and lightly tickles the roof of the mouth.
As it cools, the coffee becomes fleshy and juicy; tropical fruits and berries come to the forefront, some sweet and some tart, some cooling the back of the tongue and some biting the tip of the tongue. The honey spreads out and the bakers chocolate is replaced with a somewhat creamy vanilla taste that trickles down the sides of the tongue. Nectarine, raspberry, cranberry, blackberry, currants, banana, and a sharp mango acidity round out the bottom of the cup, leaving behind a clean, crisp finish and a lingering aftertaste of melted chocolate or hot fudge sundae.
Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
A couple years ago, when I really started getting into listening to podcasts at my work desk, I spent HOURS wasting time watching Stephen Leighton’s In My Mug vodcast, and it always broke my heart that there was no other way to try Has Bean’s coffee at home in Chicago without spending the mucho de nero it costs to have it shipped internationally. So, I did the next logical thing – I bought two plane tickets to Ireland for my wife and me and tried some Has Bean at 3FE in Dublin.
While it would have probably been cheaper to pay for international shipping than it was to pay for international plane tickets, I’m glad I spent the money because the Costa Rica Finca de Licho, from Has Bean Coffee, was very, very, very tasty.
This is a very clean, crisp, and balanced cup of coffee that is every bit tropical as it is confectionary. Its profile shifts and evolves over the life of the cup with highlights of chocolate, raspberry, honey, and juicy citrus acidity. Furthermore, it’s incredible as a single origin espresso.
A very fine Costa Rican coffee that is well worth flying over the Atlantic to drink.
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