Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of 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 from this mill. For today’s coffee the “yellow honey” process was employed—this honey process of leaving 100% of the mucilage on in all “levels” of honey is distinctive to Las Lajas. This just shows that terminology can mean various things region to region and farm to farm.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Costa Rica Las Lajas, from Terminus Coffee in Tacoma, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Finca San Luis
producer: Oscan Chacon
elevation: 1300 – 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai
process: semi-washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Costa Rica Las Lajas is absolutely amazing. Sweet and perfumed, with scents of honey, lavender, peanut butter, chamomile, rose hips, and hazelnut.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, it streams over my palate, totally enveloping my tongue with a beautifully silky satin floral texture. It’s so smooth, fine, and elegant, but it has a decadent richness to it. And the taste…? It’s so good. The coffee is overwhelmingly purple and red up front, with lots juicy fruits and flower petals: red grape, tart plum, cranberry, pomegranate iced tea, rose hips, and violet. And this all comes floating on a river of salted caramel.
As it cools, the coffee suddenly becomes almost entirely different. Really, the only thing unifying the first and second halves of this coffee is the caramel flavor, as the coffee suddenly becomes bright, effervescent, and yellow. It absolutely sparkles with a bubbly mouthfeel that dances all over the palate as tart and tangy flavors of green apple, lemon, lime, and soda water take over.
It’s like going to the bar, starting the night off with a glass of wine and finishing with a gin and tonic.
Medium body; silky/bubbly mouthfeel; grape/citrus acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
What a dynamite coffee. I remember having this coffee last year, from a different roaster and under a different name, and it was easily one of my favorite coffees
of the year since I built the Table; so I was obviously very, very excited when Terminus Coffee sent me their take on the Costa Rica Las Lajas.
I’m not going to pick a favorite between the two, because, even though they’re the same coffee, they’re two totally different cups; but I will say Terminus’s roast of it was incredibly complex and dynamic, constantly shifting, never being the same sip twice. Really, the cup immediately post-brew and the cup at room temperature are two totally different coffees in the same cup! It goes at from silky, floral, and purple to bright, bubbly, citric, and yellow.
If you’re looking for a coffee that shatters boundaries and goes beyond the veil, this is it.
So we’ve tried this coffee and we’ve loved it. Now, here’s the big reveal at the end of the show: this coffee was home-roasted on a Huky 500 by none other than our very good friends and coffee blogging compatriots, the Puristas: David and Mae Clark. Readers of the Table will know that I am a huge fan of their work (and of them) and have supported them since the very beginning. I saw a great future for them in the coffee blogging world, but I don’t think I ever would have saw them setting themselves up a legitimate coffee roasting operation.
David and Mae—I’m really proud of and happy for the two of you. Many wishes for success! To get to know the Puristas a little better, you can read my interview with David and Mae from earlier this year here.
You know, I could say “This is a good coffee… for a home roast,” or I could say “This is a good coffee… for a first time roaster,” but, really, it’s just a damn good coffee on its own merits.
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