Any farm that a coffee company purchases from for multiple years deserves to be investigated. Furthermore, any farm that a company purchases lots from for five consecutive years deserves to be sipped with great excitement.
Similarly, any coffee company that possess the reputation of a Madcap Coffee Company equally deserves to be explored.
Luckily for us, we just happen to find ourselves in a position that embodies all of the above.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Following our cup of El Roble, we are going to be moving further west in the region for a cup of Costa Rica Santa Lucia, from Madcap Coffee Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Located in the West Valley of Costa Rica, Helsar de Zarcero is a micromill started by three families with the goal of providing traceability to the high quality coffee grown on their land. Today, ten families work to produce and mill coffee at the farm. The farm is very well-known in the specialty coffee world for the sustainable practices they employ throughout their operation and the high quality of its coffee. Helsar de Zarcero is a multiple-award-winning farm, including a third placement in the 2007 Costa Rica Cup of Excellence.
Furthermore, Helsar de Zarcero recently became the very first recipient of Climate Change Action certification. From the CCA:
We are proud to announce the 1st. micro mill to be certified CCA (Climate Change Action) by Control Union Certifications:
Helsar de Zarcero Micro mill, Llano Bonito de Naranjo, West Valley Region, COSTA RICA.
Definitely, Helsar de Zarcero is an example to the world of coffee, about how a small company is taking responsibility and actions to measure and compensate its carbon footprint, in a region highly vulnerable to climate change such as Central America.
Therefore, the fact of having a Direct Trade Relationship with Helsar creates a system of climatic solidarity, between you and Helsar de Zarcero Micro mill contributing both towards carbon compensation and environmental investment.
This the fifth consecutive crop purchased from Helsar de Zarcero (2008-2012) by MadCap and, according to them, each year the coffee keeps getting better.
Their harvest and processing methods are precise, and their coffee is divided into micro lots of both organic and conventional which are carefully selected for each roaster who agrees to buy this coffee while it is still on the plant.
Ricardo Pérez Barrantes, the owner of Helsar de Zarcero, has a great understanding of the effects in pulping, fermentation, and the drying process has on the coffee. His willingness to work closely with the roasters who buy his coffee coupled with his skill as a processor allows him to present them with fabulous coffees.
The farm uses organic fertilizers that are fermented on-site by mixing coffee cherry pulp and molasses, along with mined zinc, boron, and other minerals. Micro-organisms are cultured from soil collected on nearby mountains and added to the natural fertilizer in order to provide disease protection to the coffee plants. Helsar de Zarcero is committed to producing high quality microlots
origin: Llano Bonito de Naranjo, West Valley, Costa Rica
farm: Helsar de Zarcero
elevation: 1750 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai, Villalobos
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Organic, Climate Change Action
This cup has a fine aroma—a very fine aroma, indeed. It’s a long, deep aroma too; each sniff seems to highlight a different, unique scent. It has a white wine softness, a flutter of floral aromatics, and notes of tangerine that give way to a deep, sweet caramel.
Both in aroma and in cup, it seems.
Post-brew, this cup has a light, white-wine-like mouthfeel, taste, and fragrance. It’s soft and delicate, light and clean. There are flavors of tropical fruits, like peaches, blackberry, cherry blossom, cranberry, and tangerine grapefruit, which I presume are direct results of the Catuai and Villalobos varietals that are present in this cup (most of the Caturra-only reviews of this coffee I read online seem to make more mention of honey, caramel, toffee, and cocoa).
Now that the cup has cooled off a bit, though, this review is going to start more closely resembling those of my peers.
Closer to room temperature, the body of this coffee has gained some fullness (a nice way to tell people they’ve gotten fat, by the way). Instead of light, delicate, aromatic, and winy fruit notes, the mouthfeel has become heavier, thicker, more fruity syrupy (not maple syrupy—more like a strawberry syrup from IHOP); the major flavors have become toffee, caramel, graham cracker, honey, brown sugar, and baking spices.
Medium body; fruit syrupy mouthfeel; grapefruit acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Santa Lucia, Costa Rica, from Madcap Coffee Company, is a Costa Rican coffee that is Costa-freakin’ awesome (I know—my pun game is on fleek).
This was a very sweet cup of coffee, but very refined too—it was juicy and creamy at the same time and had all sorts of wild flavors happening in the cup—a very complex and layered cup of coffee—, but it maintained a tremendous clarity throughout.
With a resulting cup like this, it’s no wonder that Madcap Coffee is so enamored with Helsar de Zarcero. I hope that their relationship with each other will continue to grow and be long-lasting.
For our benefit, of course.
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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.