Farm: Hacienda Sonora
Varietal: 100% Red Catuaí
Processing: Yellow Honey
Altitude: 1,200 metres above sea level
Owner: Alberto Guardia and his son Diego Guardia
Town / City: Alajuela, Grecia
Region: Central Valley
Overall: Milky, almond & peach.
Hacienda Sonora (West Valley) Yellow Honey - Costa Rica
Hacienda Sonora is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, at the foot of the world renowned Poas Volcano. The farm’s covers approximately 100 hectares, 45 of which lie under heavy and diverse shade. In addition to coffee, farm is also composed of 35 hectares of wild forest reserve and 20 hectares of sugar cane. The average altitude is 1,200 metres above sea level, and the five different varieties of coffee grown by the Guardias is fostered in an environment surrounded by exotic trees and other vegetation, providing great conditions for quality as well as improving the chemistry of the already naturally rich volcanic soil. Thanks to the farm’s diverse ecosystem, many different species of birds and animals seek refuge in the land.
The farm’s micro coffee mill is built in the heart of Hacienda Sonora next to a traditional 150 year-old sugar cane mill that is preserved intact. All of the machines in the mill are tuned to perform in the best and most efficient manner, using the energy harvested within the farm. All of the energy consumed by the farm is 100% renewable energy harvested on the farm itself. This energy supplies power to the coffee mill and provides a portion of free electricity for some of the people who live and work at the farm. The green energy is harvested from a natural water stream with a special turbine, known as a Pelton Wheel.
The farm’s employees are a crucial piece of Hacienda Sonora’s success. Through their energy, consistency and local insights the farm has been able to build and maintain the farm. Their well-being is essential for the owners and for the tranquillity of the farm.
One of the many things that make Hacienda Sonora so different from other farms is the fact that free accommodation is provided for all workers and their families within the bounds of the farm. For each house, Hacienda Sonora covers for the cost of water, trash collection and a portion of their electricity. Every employee fully enjoys the benefits of the Costa Rica Health Insurance system.
All coffee on the farm is processed using the honey and natural methods. Both of these methods require a lot more work and care than the traditional fully washed. However, it all makes sense when you taste the results in the cup. By experimenting with different techniques, the farm has been able to perfect both methods so as to obtain distinct sweetness, with cocoa and fruit notes, and without a trace of over-ferment.
Another important advantage is that the farm is able save great amounts of water by using the honey and the natural processes. Using the honey method saves more than 3 gallons of water per pound of coffee. Natural processed coffee doesn’t need any water at all.
About Honey Processing:
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