About the coffee
Flavour description: A crisp and juicy cup with tasting notes of tropical fruit salad and caramel. Light to medium body with a crisp acidity of pink apple, provided by the processing of the coffee.
Colour: Light orange
Producer and owner: Carlos Ureña Ceciliano with daughter Ana Ureña Ceciliano
Farm: Finca La Pira
City: Santa María de Dota
Farm size: 7 hectares
Altitude: 1650 masl
Harvest: Mid-January to February 2019
Processing: White Honey
Roast style: We are roasting this coffee for vibrancy and clarity in the cup, with a light to medium roast profile.
At the absolutely breathtaking farm named La Pira, in Terrazú, Carlos Ureña Ceciliano is using a mixture of his biodynamic philosophy and science and is one of the most talented producers we know, and the reasons La Pira appeared in the Cup of Excellence. For the White honey process, he is letting the coffee cherries sit in rain water before the beans are de-pulped. Doing this makes the sugars in the coffee pulp crystallise. Whatever all the things are that make this coffee so sweet, crisp and complex, we are grateful for it.
About the farm
Carlos is working with an interesting mixture of science and biodynamic agriculture. He is going out in the morning to hear where the birds are singing, telling him what is going on where among the coffee trees, analyzing the farm by nature. Where the birds are gives him an indication of ripeness, flowering and challenges at the farm. He is making his own fertiliser and using the waste energy of the coffee processing for the coffee pulper.
Visiting La Pira and walking the farm, you never want to leave. You want to hear more about Carlos harvesting methods and turn upside down on more of his theories. With the whole family - Ureña Ceciliano, Carlos’ daughter, called Ana Ureña Ceciliano, is a great support and keeping the business on track. His grandchildren like spending time at La Pira too.
This coffee is White honey processed, which means that most of the pulp has been removed by pulping the coffee, but the mucilage has remained while drying, instead of washing it off as in the washed process. The mucilage is very sticky and honey-like, hence the term- Honey Processed. White honey just indicates how much of the mucilage is left on the bean, in this case less than 25%. Red honey being almost all of the mucilage is left on the bean, or about 75% of it.
Last time we visited, Carlos had improved his resting time of the cherries before processing. Carlos had, inspired by Michelin chefs, done research on the idea of freezing the mucilage before chopping off the outer skin in the pulper. The White Honey Catuaí is first frozen over night in rain water before the skin is chopped off in the pulper. For the White Honey less than 25% of the mucilage is left on the bean when the coffee is drying and is dried for 22 days on raised beds. As the sugars crystallize this gives another kind of sweetness to the cup, reminding of pink apple.
After inheriting the family farm, Carlos worked for many years as a certified organic coffee producer, but he realized doing so was just not possible on this farm. Organic coffee is good, but not possible for everyone. The yield was very, very affected by leaf rust a few years back. So Carlos looked for alternatives, while still holding organic and biodynamic principles very close to his heart. For instance, instead of using chemicals to control the weeds, he has sheep roaming freely among the coffee plants eating the weeds (and strangely leave the coffee plants alone). They work as automatic and mobile 'fertilization units' (nature’s a wonderful thing). This has eliminated the need for herbicides. This is the kind of thinking Carlos has about coffee. Salary for pickers are generally good in Costa Rica, but many farmers are using workers from neighbouring countries, paying cheaper salaries and sometimes working harder during the harvest. Carlos is using local workers and paying the workers more than the government established wages.
The FOB prices for this coffee is 5,75 USD per pound.