Costa Rica Cerro Paldo
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Just 45 minutes to the South of San Jose lies Cerro Paldo in the district of Aserri, Tarbaca, a micro-region of the popular coffee region of Tarrazu. Cerro Paldo is owned by Ronald Monge Valverde, the third generation of coffee producers in the family. His grandfather Adam Monge Castro bought 2 hectares of land more than 60 years ago and began their legacy. Ronald’s father, Juan Rafael Monge Picado inherited the farm and has passed it on to his son. Currently ten people live on the farm and are devoted to producing high quality coffee.

The excellence required to process mature fruit has been the key to obtaining a high quality cup. Their sustainable production system uses vegetable covers and organic matter, instead of agrochemicals. The Monge Valverde family is a member of the Asociacion Agropecuaria de Productores de Acosta y Aserri. ASOPROAAA is a producer association established three years ago to work together with the objective of adding value to their products by establishing strict quality standards on coffee production and processing.

The initial investment to build a mill was challenging and demanded a lot of hard work but all the efforts paid off when they won first place with Cerro Paldo at the 2007 Costa Rica Cup of Excellence.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Costa Rica Cerro Paldo (Red Honey), from Klatch Coffee in Upland, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.

the basics:

region: Tarrazu, Costa Rica
farm/factory: Cerro Paldo
producer: Ronald Monge Valverde
association: Asociacion Agropecuaria de Productores de Acosta y Aserri (ASOPROAAA)
elevation: 1700 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai
process: honey process
certifications: standard

the coffee:

The aroma of the Cerro Paldo is soft, mellow, subdued. Faint wisps of flowers and berries waft up, out of the cup, and introduce scents of honey, cocoa powder, and roasted hazelnut.

While taking my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, just about all I can taste is roast. So I’ll wait it out. Let the coffee settle for a bit.

Okay, let’s try this again. Well, it’s still a little roasty, but at least it’s the flavor of roasted nuts and not just carbon. I can also taste faint traces of raw cocoa nibs and honey, which usher in mellow, but bright, fruit flavors. I wish, though, that these fruits were more forward or would lift me out of my chair, because I know these flavors are incredible but I just can’t coax them out no matter how intently I slurp or how over-extracted I make the coffee (which I accidentally took too far in one brew). Anyway, there are some really nice notes of blackberry, red currant, cranberry, cherry, raisin, caramel,  strawberry wine, and a lazy citrus acidity.

Just imagine how good this coffee could be if those flavors popped even more. Alas.

Medium body; watery mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.

the bottom line:

While the Costa Rica Cerro Paldo, from Klatch Coffee, is a bright and sweet cup of coffee, it is also a refined and delicate experience. The Cerro Paldo has great flavors, but I really wish that they were more forward, more prominent, less concealed by roast. It teases the taste buds a lot, but leaves something to be desired.

Look, I’ve had this particular coffee once before and I know that it can be explosively flavorful and intensely bright – like a Mardi Gras parade on the palate. This roast, however, was quiet, subdued, and muffled. It tasted like the warbled sounds of a party next door bleeding through the thin walls of an apartment complex – I could kinda sorta tell what was going on, but it just wasn’t clear enough.

I’m really disappointed in the two coffees I received from Klatch this week because they are not at all a company that is prone to over-roasting their coffees. In all fairness, I don’t think that’s what happened here, either – I think the coffee is just underdeveloped.

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