This is from the Sonora Estate on the Paos volcano. and is a microlot of their honey process (pulp natural). It's a small family estate owned by two brothers who process all of their harvest in small lots and focus on very high quality. Estates are starting to differentiate their different honey lots, and while there isn't yet a universal definition of the different colors, the basic idea is that it serves as a record for how long they allowed to beans to sundry. "White" is left in the sun the least amount of time and is the closest to being a washed coffee. "Yellow" is next longest, then "Red" and finally "Black" which is the closest to being a Natural Sundried process. So this is a Black Honey which has a lot of black cherry and plum fruitiness to it and a lot of sweetness. "Honey processed" coffees are processed by hand which means the "honey" (the fruit pulp called Cascara) was left on the coffeebean in order to give it an extra dimension of flavor and sweetness. It saves 3 gallons of water per pound vs the traditional washed process method, but it requires more labor to produce.
Honey Processed coffees tend to be some of the trickiest to roast. They need a lot of airflow (on our 12 pound roaster we only roast 3 pound batches so that they have maximum airflow around them. On an air roaster, they do better.) A few degrees difference at the end does give you very different results and it's a pretty easy coffee to mess up. Nudge the heat up gently, evenly, give it plenty of time to get through the 1st cracks, maybe wait 20 seconds more, let it out. If in doubt, err on the side of being too dark. Letting is go a degree or two to dark will give you a sweet, soft albeit boring coffee, but a degree or two too early gets you grassy flavored tartness, so take careful notes. When you get it right, you want to be able to repeat what you did! Keep the roast at 15 minutes or less. This goes against current roasting theory, but we almost let it stall out as it ends first cracks, and then give it more heat and less airflow for the last 30 seconds of the roast, and the bean really seems to like this. Our favorite roast of this has a "soft" mouthfeel that makes it so pleasant to drink. A nice honey-like sweetness, slight milk chocolate, black cherry, and plum. The fruitiness comes out more as it cools. It has nice thick smooth body for a honey processed coffee, which is nice. It also makes decent espresso, with lots of crema, even as a light roast bean. We will have more complex/fruity Costa Rica honey coffees next month, but this one was very popular last year, and has a great pricepoint.
USA Arrival: July 2017
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