Varietal: 100% Red Catuaí
Processing: Yellow Honey
Don Claudio (West Valley) Yellow Honey - Costa Rica
Don Claudio Salazar Arias was taught how to farm coffee from a very young age. His current farm, Finca La Isabela, was inherited from his father, Don Cristobal, as was his work ethic and passion for coffee farming. Although the plot he inherited was small (his father had to divide the original farm between no fewer than 7(!) sons and daughters), his vision was big. He named the farm after his wife, Dunia Isabela Rodriguez, and today they and their two sons carry on the legacy.
Today you find the immaculate Finca La Isabel nestled in the highlands of Llano Bonito, Naranjo in Costa Rica’s West Valley. The region is cool and quiet with ideal conditions for growing quality coffee. Don Claudio and his family make the most of these natural surroundings, working with several different varieties, including Caturra, Villalobos, Geisha, and various Sarchimors. The whole family is involved in every aspect of work on the farm - from the nurseries up until the final moments of the harvest - in pursuit of that great quality they´ve been taught to value as part of the family heritage.
The farm has its own nursery that also produces seedlings for Don Claudio’s other small farms. This specific microlot is produced from a plot of land that was planted under Red Catuaí just three years ago. 2016 marks the plot’s first full harvest.
The Red Catuaí has responded very well to the local climate and soil conditions. It has been helped along significantly by the activities that the family undertakes, as well. The farm is fertilised three times a year and receives 4 foliar sprays during different times of the year. Pruning and weeding is done at regular intervals. 3 permanent employees help the family year round, and during the harvest up to 20 additional temporary workers are provided with employment.
After being selectively hand harvested, the coffee is delivered on the same day to the La Eva micro-Mill to be honey processed and patio dried. Once it reaches 10% humidity, it is stored in Jute bags and left in parchment to rest for a couple of months until it´s time to prepare the coffee for export.
The farm is currently producing at 100% capacity, and for the future the family aims to focus on improving productivity and continuing to renovate old or sick plants within the farm. Also they are starting to work with different varieties and see how they produce on their conditions.
The Milling Process is done in La Eva Mill, located in Sarchi Norte, approximately 30 minutes away from the farm. After pulping and partial demucilaging, the coffee is then dried on the Mill’s patios.
This microlot was processed using the Yellow honey method.
‘Honey’ processing is a form of semi-washed process that is common across Costa Rica. Different designations of white, yellow, red and black honey are commonly used among Central and South American farmers and commonly refer to differences in:
- the amount of mucilage left on the bean after pulping;
- how the beans are dried (i.e. direct sunlight or shaded conditions);
- the length of time and conditions under which the beans are dried.
Loosely, the following guidelines are followed when categorising a honey:
- 80-90% of the mucilage is removed
- Beans are dried on raised beds in direct sun
- Beans dry quickly in the intense heat and the parchment becomes white in colour
- 50% of the mucilage is removed
- Beans are dried in conditions of low wind and medium sunlight
- Beans are raked 3 to 4 times a day and dry for up to a week
- 80-90% of the mucilage remains on the bean
- Beans are dried on raised beds in overcast or shaded conditions
- Beans are raked on the first morning and then only once or twice in the afternoon
- Mucilage is left as close to intact as possible
- Beans are dried on raised bed in fully shaded conditions
- Beans are not moved at all on the first day and are then raked once a day; drying time can take up to three weeks.