Las Lajas, Costa Rica

Las Lajas, Costa Rica

Regular price $26.00 Sale price $21.00

A rich and creamy natural by pioneering Costa Rican producers Francisca and Oscar Chacon.

 

Producer: The Chacon Family

Country: Costa Rica

Region: Central Valley

Altitude: 1500 masl

Varietal: Caturra

Process: Natural

Harvest: March 2021

Roast Date: 12/20/2021

 

 

Las Lajas has been a family project since 1840, being passed down through the generations until Oscar Chacon inherited 5 hectares of land when his father passed away. At only 18, Oscar initially kept the status quo, selling cherry to a local mill like many in Costa Rica at the time. After being married to Francisca in 1997, Oscar’s family was growing, and for a time cherry selling provided income and stability, but the coffee price crisis of the late 90’s and early 2000’s put a stop to this. They initially converted their entire production to organic, allowing them to demand a much higher price at the local mill, but the coffee market price continued to decline.

Together, Oscar and Francisca made the decision to process their own coffee, taking control of their own product. They were one of the driving forces behind a wider movement in Costa Rica, known as the micro-mill revolution, where many producers built their own small mills and began to process small traceable lots of coffee. At a time when the speciality coffee movement was in its infancy, this completely revolutionised the Costa Rican coffee market, creating somewhat of a mecca for these early speciality buyers. From this point, Oscar and Francisca’s attention to detail and entrepreneurial spirit led to an upwards trajectory for the project, creating new processes, separating and cultivating new varietals.

They were in fact one of the first producers to process natural coffees in Costa Rica after a 2008 earthquake led to power outages and a patchy water supply. This gave rise to their now well known ‘Perla Negra’ process, one seen in barista competitions around the world. Initially named for the small ‘black pearls’ created when coffee cherries shrivel and dry on patios, this is an exacting and careful example of natural processing, by one of the pioneers of the method. First, the cherries are floated to remove low density and defective seeds. Francisca feels that when coffee is dried in direct sun on a patio, it dries too fast and loses its brightness and liveliness, so Perla Negra lots are dried under plastic drying tunnels. In the humid Costa Rican harvest season, this creates an almost sauna effect, so the tunnels are removed at intervals to allow the moisture to evaporate. After 5 days of this cycling, the coffee is moved to raised drying beds inside an open ventilated greenhouse, lengthening the overall drying time and leading to an even moisture content; allowing more intense and distinct flavours in the cup. This leads to a particularly clean cup profile, but with the layers of complexity and richness that we value in naturals. Here, we’re finding a deep and creamy milk chocolate base, with soft stewed red fruit and a round plum acidity.