Our first honey process since we sold out of a Peruvian honey just over a year ago, what a delight this visitor from the mountains of Costa Rica is. In between a natural and washed process, Aguilera Yellow produces flavor notes of orange, nectarine, cranberry with a pleasant sugary molasses finish. Those with very refined or sensitive palates may pick up berry, passionfruit and floral notes as well.
The beans come from the hilly areas south of Costa Rica, closer to the Pacific Ocean, at an elevation of around 4,500 feet, in a tiny sliver called the West Valley. Farmed on a 150 acre piece of land that is owned by a family of 12 called the Aguilera Brothers (which also consists of some sisters), the average of 150 days of rain helps produce consistently great coffee. The farm extends into some very remote and inaccessible areas, which is part of why they hire 50+ workers each year to help with the harvest, all from the same local families each year, and paying a higher than average wage for the industry in the area.
Honey process is accomplished by a de-pulping of the cherry fruit, so that most of it is gone, however it isn’t washed afterward, leaving behind a sticky mucilage that is very honey-like in texture and taste. The coffee is then turned regularly to keep the mucilage consistent and sticking to the bean. This farm dries its coffee on tarps along a soccer pitch they built for the local community and its workers, making for happy workers and coffee beans that have something to look at as they dry their way into your grinder and cup.
Berries and fruit lead the flavor profile for this Ethiopian natural process. Strawberry, dried blueberries, even some raspberry, w/ some hints of lavender. We found an oh-so-subtle chocolate note at the end as well. It felt like a cousin of our Guatemalan Blue Ayarza in some ways. It’s a very full flavored coffee, solid and vibrant.
The location of where these beans come from has some mild debate in the uptight, snooty world of single origin coffees. While Bule Hora, and Gelana Abaya, where the beans are grown and then processed, respectively, are not technically right in Yirgacheffe, the towns are so close in proximity and employ the Yirgacheffe methods are used, that it is ruled to have a Yirgacheffe profile by the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, and is therefore considered a Yirgacheffe coffee. Whatever it is, it’s a fantastic coffee that we all loved.
After being picked at elevations ranging from elevations of 5,100-5,700 feet, the beans are dried on raised beds for 18-21 days. During the hottest and sunniest time of the day they are raked frequently, and then covered to protect them from the sun, then uncovered for several hours to help the drying process, but then covered overnight to protect them from moisture (coffee beans are pretty high maintenance, eh?).
Yet another wonderful Ethiopian natural process, and Organic to boot. Satiny milk chocolate leads the way, with a clear caramel and brown sugar thread, followed by very subtle notes of dried blueberry and cherry, without any strong citrus appearance or high acidity.
These beans come from the Burka Gudina Estate, located in the Limmu Kosa district, within the Jimma Zone of Ethiopia. The farm is run by Ibrahim Hussein, a third generation coffee farmer in the area, and is marked by gentle, rolling, forested hills that range from 1,800 – 2,000 meters.
These natural process beans are dried in the sun before processing, at which point the mucilage is scrubbed off, but still leaving behind some of the dried cherry, the latter being a key component to the sweet, rich flavor of natural process coffees such as this one.
A Mexican roast that fits our roaster’s high standards finally found its way to our facility, and this one is absolutely fantastic. It has perfect balance, with a pronounced milk chocolate introduction, followed by notes of brown sugar, vanilla, cherry, and a little wink of citrus, with a lovely creamy finish. A washed process bean, we medium roast it to bring out the truly full bodied flavor it offers.
Grown in the central sierra mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, the town of Huatusco is in the relatively high mountains, at about 4,200 feet elevation. The workers tend to speak indigenous languages, not Spanish, and therefore have been growing crops a long time, and know how to get the most out of this land. They definitely achieved that goal with these coffee beans.
The Huatusco beans have a unique process used to de-pulp the coffee cherries, adding rehydrated yeast and mucilage as part of the 48 hour fermentation process, leading to a sweeter, fruitier bean than most washed process coffee beans.
Our first natural process from Guatemala, it has lower acidity than the Ethiopian naturals, while still having a fruity profile. Blackberry, mango are the first flavors we picked up, with guava, red currant following and just the most subtlest of chocolate coming through as the cup cooled. It feels like an Ethiopian natural without the acidity or strong citrus profile.
These beans come from the southeastern part of Guatemala, in a very rural, inaccessible, mountainous area above Laguna de Ayarza (locally known as “Blue Lake”), where there are less than 10 homes in total around its perimeter. Cold, deep and pristine, the lake is said to be formed by two massive volcanoes that collapsed into a large crater, parts of the bottom having never been found. The beloved lake is part of legendary folklore for the locals. Because natural process coffee beans have more rigorous requirements, only those grown in the 5,500-6,000 elevation are selected.
Due to the hilly conditions where the beans are grown, the natural process beans are transported to a neighboring region where there is flatter land available for drying them in the sun, with sufficient breezes to blow over them. Laid out in layers of 3-4″ deep, they are dried for 5-6 days while being constantly turned during the day. The cherries go from red or yellow to purple, and then black. They are then finished for a half a day in mechanical dryers, this final process helping to control the acidity and ensure a final dry process without any pesky rain showers that may cause re-absorption of rainwater.