Today’s coffee comes from Finca Salaca, located in the Palmira de Zarcero micro-region of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. This lot produces in total about 350 bags per year. Maria Elena Castro handles the production of the farm throughout the year, planting, pruning, and maintenance. Her son Luis Salazar works seasonally for the family farm during the harvest season, he manages the picking and processing at their micro mill at the farm.
Maria Elena Castro and son opened their micro mill just this year after years of delivering their coffee cherry to Helsar de Zarcero and CoopeNaranjo. Maria Elena’s farm, Finca Salaca, sits at 1750 meters above sea level in one of the more beautiful parts of Costa Rica, and Central America for that matter.
Finca Salaca, is blessed with optimal climatic conditions for producing excellent coffees; rich volcanic soils and ideal altitude. Finca Salaca is planted almost entirely with the Villalobos variety, not a very common variety, although some Caturra is mixed in with it as well. Villalobos is a varietal developed in Costa Rica from the Typica varietal. The West Valley was heavily seeded with the varietal in the 1950’s and 60’s and a good portion still remains at these higher elevations. Villalobos is particularly resistant to wind and very good at producing coffee in nutrient defﬁcient soils, it is also particularly good at high altitudes and is well known for its sweetness and reﬁned acidity.
Maria Elena mechanically washes her coffee on a Desacafe machine and sun dries it on raised beds. The coffees are processed nearby at the family owned micro-mill, Beneficio Las Brisas, making sure quality control is transparent from start to finish. The process which they use to clean the coffees tend to leave a very tiny amount of fruit that is left on the bean and this process is fully washed but is sometimes called yellow honey process.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Finca Salaca Costa Rica, from Toby’s Estate Coffee in Brooklyn, New York, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Palmira de Zarcero, Central Valley, Costa Rica
farm: Finca Salaca
producer: Maria Elena Castro and Luis Salazar
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Typica, Villalobos
process: pulped natural, raised bed dried
Warm and subtle aromas waft up from the Finca Salaca Costa Rica, inviting my nose to dive deeper and deeper in. Toffee and malt are the defining characteristics of the aroma, but I’m also picking up scents of nuts, cinnamon apples, and citrus.
Immediately post-brew, the flavor seems to match the aroma. While the cup is still piping hot, heavy flavors of molasses and maple syrup lazily ooze over the palate, making way for spicy-sweet cinnamon and brown sugar, while roasted almonds show up in the finish.
As it cools off, thick and syrupy fruits bubble up from the bottom of the cup, breaking the crust of the surface, and seep onto the palate. Golden delicious apple, nectarine, apricot, white peach, green grape, plum, and tangerine all bounce around on the middle and sides of the tongue before finishing off with rustic flavors of oak, salted caramel, and raw honey.
Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
All right, I’ll admit it—I like seasonal drinks. I drink egg nog with brandy and hot cocoa during Winter, I like Arnold Palmers or ice cold water with a cucumber on a hot Summer day, and homemade apple cider with coriander, orange rind, clove, and cinnamon is my jam in Autumn. For my palate, the same applies to coffee, honestly—during the Winter I like fuller-bodied and slightly roasty coffees; during the Spring I like medium-bodied coffees that have complex fruit and savory flavors; during the Summer I really like light-bodied coffees that are bright and vivacious and have crazy intense acidity; and during the Autumn months I like more medium-to-full-bodied coffees that are earthy and rustic.
The Finca Salaca Costa Rica, from Toby’s Estate Coffee, is an incredibly delicious coffee as it is, but drinking it while there’s a crisp chill in the air and brightly colored leaves are falling to the ground…? That just made the experience all the better.
This a warm, soothing, inviting coffee from beginning to end, but it has its moment of excitement there in the middle of the cup. And, really, its overall profile matches the season perfectly—it embraces and warms you up like an old flannel shirt, then it presents the brightness of the season which can be found in the trees (the bright oranges, reds, and yellows), then finishes off warm and fuzzy again.
This is a tremendous coffee all the way around, no matter what the weather is like. One that I sincerely can’t recommend highly enough.
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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.