COSTA RICA - CEDRAL
COSTA RICA - CEDRAL
Origin: Costa Rica
Producer: Alfozo & Javier Solis
Elevation: 1900 masl
Tasting Notes: Raspberry, Chocolate, Lingering Sweetness
This beautiful prairie side farm is no stranger to hard work and good care. Alfonzo Solis, the patriarch of the family spends most of his time up the mountain from their home in the small town of Santa Maria. Alfonzo grows and sells various fruit in addition to coffee on his farm.
As coffee came to be one of the better paying fruits to grow in the region their plantation grew and lead to the creation of Cedral. At first, Alfonzo was only interested in producing his coffee in order to deliver it to the cooperative nearby, but his son, Javier, persuaded him to take the risk of processing all of their own coffee. Javier is extremely passionate about specialty coffee and loves being surrounded by nature. He went to university in the city as a young adult as many farmer’s children are doing these days. He studied technical engineering and works as an advisor for companies all around the country, but mainly near the larger cities, during the week. When he isn’t doing his consultant work, he is back at home in Santa Maria and on the farm helping his father produce specialty coffee off of their farm.
Cedral means cedar tree in Spanish. This area was overrun by cedar trees in the past, but in the mid 1900s a large company from Spain came into the area and cut down the area where the farm resides today. Although that is quite sad, it is promising to see the Solis family re-planting and farming sustainably in the recuperating land. The micro climate coupled with the habitat that Alfonzo has created by planting various other plants in order to produce excellent coffee is world class. High altitude, great cloud cover, strong sun rays, plenty of wind movement, and frequent rains lend well to the young catuai plants (only 6 years old!) growing in the fertile soil of the Dota Valley.
Aside from having a very biodiverse farm they do many things in the quest to manage the farm sustainably. They use the spent cascara from processing on their plants not only as fertilizer but also to maintain moisture in the soil. The elements in their soil are not quite balanced enough to produce the coffee that they are after and are high in potassium; so they put down boron and zinc in order to foster an ideal base for the farm. Alfonzo fertilizes four times a year, which is exceptional yet requires a hefty investment, and they execute this practice after first analyzing the coffee leaves to understand what is needed for the trees.
Alfonzo and Javier have a very humble set up for processing their coffee cherries, but their method is far from simple. They allow the freshly picked cherries to ferment in sacks under the shade and in the cool of the night before being pulped the next day. They utilize a simple de-pulper to separate the fruit from the seed and mucilage. The seeds, along with its mucilage, are put into a fermentation with a small amount of water to ferment for another 4 hours. This is done in order to remove only a small percentage of the mucilage from the seeds. The little bit of water used in this process is moved to a pond where it is oxidized and then used back in the farm. The parchment is then put out to dry.
Currently, Cedral houses 30 drying beds in their micromill and are planning to build 20 more as well as a concrete patio for pre-drying. They put their mucilage covered coffee seeds on the raised drying beds in a thin layer in order to avoid more fermentation and make sure to keep it moving/turned about every hour during daylight. The coffee takes 18-20 days to reach its ideal moisture content which is an impressively slow amount of time. This is due to the unique microclimate in their farm and we believe it translates to the high quality in their coffee.
The dry mill is an extremely important, yet often overlooked step in the coffee process. Javier chooses to take his parchment coffee to be hulled, screen sized, density sorted, and sorted by hand for defects at a neighboring mill called Montanas del Diamante, a larger sized operation also located in Santa Maria. - information courtesy of SELVA