Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of Costa Rica Las Lajas Micromill are third generation coffee producers in their family. They inherited their farms from their grandparents and are known for being one of the first to process high-quality Honeys and Naturals in Central America and for participating in the Cup of Excellence auction in 2009.
Las Lajas is an organic micromill located in Sabanilla de Alajuela in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Organic coffee in Costa Rica is almost non-existent and with this caliber of cup makes it one of a kind; they believe in the preservation of the environment hence their organic practices. Las Lajas processes coffee from their family farms’; these lots are fully traceable and separated by day. Water use is minimal since coffee is not washed. During the harvest Francisca will measure the brix contents in the coffee cherry to determine the optimal time to pick their coffee. 21 – 22% brix content has been the maximum they’ve seen.
Las Lajas carries several distinct processes – the difference being the frequency at which the drying cherries are turned each day – is unique to this finca. The coffee we’re drinking today is processed via the Black Honey method. The development of different profiles — yellow, red, black, pearla negra and alma negra — is unique to this finca.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Costa Rica Las Lajas, from Rival Brothers Coffee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca San Luis
producer: Dona Francisca, Oscar Chacon
elevation: 1300 – 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai
process: black honey
The aroma of the Costa Rica Las Lajas is very fragrant, and is loaded with some really interesting, complex nuances. Typically, with a honey-processed Costa Rican coffee, I’d expect to be smelling bright, fruity notes. There is some of that in this cup (black cherry and lemon), but I’m more taken with the scents of nuts and wood.
The coffee has a very clean profile and a honeyed mouthfeel, but it also possesses some bright, vibrant, effervescent flavors of lemon meringue, black cherry, raisin… I have to say, though, as much as I was really expecting to be dazzled by those bright, vibrant, juicy fruit flavors, these elements of macadamia, earth, and cedar chips – though they’re not as prevalent – are really impressing me. I just wasn’t expecting these flavors to be so pronounced. The macadamia nut note, maybe… I guess I’m more taken with the cedar. There’s also a presence of dry Darjeeling tea. And the more the cup cools off, the more pronounced these flavors become. This is suddenly a very zesty and spicy cup, and each sip leaves behind a dry, astringent finish that leaves the mouth literally watering for more.
I’ve had this coffee a few times here at the Table and it seems like every time I’ve had it it was a completely different cup. Even though I’ve had this coffee a half dozen times from various roasters over the past few years, I’ve never had the same cup twice; which is just one reason I love coffees from this farm so damn much. And that remains true for Rival Brothers’s take on it.
Especially true, really.
Their Costa Rica Las Lajas provides a unique, singular cupping experience that stands out even from the rest of the half dozen or so cups I’ve cupped. While this coffee features sweet honey and juicy, effervescent fruits, its black tea, earth, wood, and nut flavors are so impressive. This is a really incredible, memorable coffee.
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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.