Costa Rican Coffee History
Costa Rica is one of the top producers of coffee in the world. As their third most exported product, it is incredibly important to the country’s economy. Ethiopia introduced Arabica coffee to the country in the late 1770s. The Costa Rican government encouraged farming of coffee by offering plots of land to local farmers. By 1829, coffee production was a larger source of revenue than tobacco, cacao, and sugar cane. Today, the farms in Costa Rica often employ Nicaraguan immigrants as seasonal workers on plantations to harvest coffee during peak seasons.
This Red Honey Costa Rican coffee is a Las Lajas specialty that they have been developing and refining over the seasons. Red Honey is a medium duration process the Las Lajas uses. This process involves the cherry on the out side of the coffee bean being left on for a period of 24 hours.
Oscar and Francisca Chacón on Beneficio Las Lajas. This farm is one of the best micro mills in Costa Rica. Las Lajas is prominent within the industry for its unique and exceptional drying techniques for natural and honey processed coffees. Oscar and Francisca are continually experimenting and developing new processing techniques. They are constantly searching for the perfect technique to produce a cup that expresses the inherent delicacy, harmony and complexity of their coffees.
Honey processed coffee is unique. When they remove the skin and pulp from the cherry, the mucilage, a sugary, sticky outer layer, remains on during the drying stage. The mucilage resembles Honey. Hence, why we refer to the process as “Honey Process”. These coffees are significantly less acidic than washed or natural/sun dried coffees. They also tend to have much more character and sweetness than traditional fully washed coffees.
Farmers have begun to assign colors to each level of honey process, indicating the amount of exposure to sunlight the plants receive. Yellow/white honey process being the most and black honey process being the least amount of sunlight. Yellow/white honey coffees are usually left to dry in the sun for around a week and red honey is dried for two to three weeks, usually in the shade. Whereas Black honey is exposed to as little light as possible and must dry for at least two weeks. The longer the dry time, the more fruit-forward the end result tastes.