In Costa Rica, the grade of coffee is determined by the hardness of the bean, a factor which is dictated by the altitude at which the beans are grown. The highest grade coffee is labeled Strictly Hard Bean or SHB and is reserved for coffee grown 1,200 meters above sea level, or MASL.
EP (European Preparation) specifies that the raw beans are all vigorously sorted to remove any defective beans and foreign material, often by hand, though increasingly via optical sorters.
“La Capilla” is a blend specially prepared by our Costa Rican office, Cafinter S.A. The operation was established in 1989 originally as an export business that has since developed an integrated milling-export operation.
It manages three mills in the country and each mill is located near the farms from which it sources. Cafinter directs the production process and keeps a close eye on quality. The components of this blend are selected exclusively from the pristine southwestern region of the Tarrazú Valley. Protected by the Pacific Basin range, the region offers sanctuary to rare birds, lush forests and top quality coffee.
The coffee here is critical to the socio-economic success of the area. Regional blends such as “La Capilla” offer consistency from year to year. “La Capilla” is known for its layered fruit notes including light lemon and plum, as well as its round base of cocoa and caramel. The delicate acidity of this cup creates a perfect balance.
Lemon, Tropical Fruit, Cocoa
The washed process is the most consistent method when it comes to quality. Washing takes place at a dedicated wet mill. At the bigger farms in Latin America, there is typically a washing station on-site.
First, the freshly picked coffee cherries are put in water. This is a way to sort out cherries that are unripe or have some other defect. The bad cherries will often rise to the surface. They are called ‘floaters’.
The cherries then go through a de-pulper that will remove the outer skin and pulp.
A layer of slime will be left on the seed though – this is called mucilage and can be compared to the sticky layer that coats the stone of a peach.
In order to get rid of this mucilage, the seed will have to ferment in water tanks for 8-50 hours. The time the seeds are allowed to soak depends on the equipment, climate, and the preference of the producer.
After that beans will be floated and rinsed once again. The beans are then dried on concrete patios or raised beds until they have reached a moisture content of 10-12 %.
Tarrazú, San José, Costa Rica
The climate of Tarrazú is split into the rainy (May to November) and dry (December to April) seasons. Harvest time is a five-month period from November to March that coincides nicely with the dry season. The region, made up of a number of small farms, each with an average size of 2.5 hectares (6.1775 acres), presents an ideal location for growing Arabica coffee beans: a sedimentary soil composition and altitudes from 1,200 to 1,900 meters. It is estimated that nearly 95% of beans grown in the Tarrazú region fall under the SHB category.