After my adventures abroad, reviewing coffees from Thirty-Thirty in Peoria, Illinois and Velton’s Coffee in Everett, Washington, I received another package in the mail—this time from my neighbors (and good friends) at Metropolis Coffee Company. It was just a subtle reminder that no matter how far from my city I may roam, the sprawling metropolis of it will always be waiting for my return on my doorstep.
It’s good to be home.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of Costa Rica Perla Negra, from Metropolis in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Finca Las Lajas is a beautiful farm on the foothills of the Poas Volcano in the Central Valley region. The name Las Lajas comes from the native word used for the precious stones sculpted by the natives.
Francisca Cubillo Salas comes from a long family tradition of coffee. Las Lajas is both a mill and a farm, and three generations of her family has produced coffee there. When Salas took over the farm, she put her own stamp on it by switching to organic farming practices in 2000.
They felt this method of coffee farming was better for the environment and their family’s health. Converting a conventional coffee estate to organic production is a lengthy and uncertain process. It typically takes three to five years of using organic methods until soil, foliage and fruit analysis shows no remaining trace of restricted chemicals. There is a drop in production during the conversion years as the trees adjust to a sudden reduction of added nutrients.
Various coffee diseases can also take hold of the trees as the use of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides is reduced. They use compost and bocachi, a homemade, naturally fermented fertilizer, to keep their coffee plants healthy and maintain soil quality on their farm. They also implement soil conservation techniques. After the coffee is harvested, it is processed in hand-made artisanal mills that are uniquely suited to the needs of the farm and the land, minimizing water and energy usage.
I’m excited about trying this coffee for two reasons: 1) all of the information above—Finca Las Lajas seems to be doing a lot of really interesting and exciting things—and, 2) this is the first coffee I’ve had from Metropolis since my friend Michael McSherry (aka: “Grinderman”) was hired on as a roaster.
origin: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca Las Lajas
elevation: 1300-1500 meters above sea level
process: fully natural
The dry aroma of this coffee is absolutely delightful and soothing, with notes of vanilla cream, pecans, toffee, and cherry—like a sundae. The wet aroma is a little brighter, as I’m getting whiffs of cream, cherry, and citrus.
The first few sips are warm and inviting. It’s creamy and smooth with a velvety body—dark chocolate, brown sugar, ; after each sip, a small seeping of ripe strawberry pushes through in each finish. As it cools off, the cup gets juicier, sweeter, fruitier, silkier—strawberry, cherry, peaches, red grapes, just maybe a slight hint of banana(?), and honey.
At room temperature, the cup gets brighter, more lively. Some tropical fruit elements get more prominent and a delicious pineapple acidity emerges. Absolutely delicious.
Light body; silky mouthfeel; pineapple acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
This was a bit of a misleading coffee. Based on the flavor profile that Metropolis gave it (strawberry, grape, pineapple), I was expecting a light-bodied, lively, bright coffee. Instead, I got a cup that was medium-bodied, warm, and soothing, with occasional sparkles of brightness. Color me surprised.
This was a really tasty cup—there wasn’t much about it that was particularly mesmerizing, but it was definitely a tasty cup. The Costa Rica Perla Negra is definitely worth trying out.
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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.