Region: Aquiares, Turrialba Altitude: 1200-1,400 metres above sea level Varietal: Esperanza Process: Red Honey Producer: Robelo Family
The ‘Don Alfonso’ series microlot is a limited-release that represents the best of the harvest from Aquiares Estate in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Red Honey is the first of two micro-lots that we will be releasing, as a feature series from Don Alfonso.
Lot #1 is a honey process coffee containing vibrant fruit-forward flavours with a beautiful balance of tropical acidity and rich sweetness. Look out for passionfruit, quince jelly with tropical acidity in the cup.
Recommended for pour-over, Aeropress, stove top and French Press. Pura Vida!
This lot comes to us from the Robelo family in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Over 900 hectares of the land is in production, making Aquiares one of the largest estates in Costa Rica. For over a century, the farm has developed an enduring model for growing high-quality coffee, protecting the stunning natural setting, and supporting a thriving local community of 1,800 people. Coffee plots here are protected by large preserved forests, providing a healthy environment for the local animals, birds, and plants
Established by British farmers in 1890, Aquiares was one of the first estates to produce and export Costa Rican coffee. In 1971, the farm was purchased by its current owners - three families who have worked together with the community to implement a model of sustainable agriculture.
Today, the farm manages the entire coffee production chain, from seedling production to plant cultivation, harvesting and milling. This ensures that they are able to meet the highest standards of quality assurance and guarantee a traceable product.
This lot is 100% ‘Esperanza’ variety – a hybrid of Caturra and the Ethiopia 531 variety, developed by various Central American coffee research institutes. Esperanza marries cup quality with high resistance to disease.
Microlots, such as this one, are picked by a special team of skilled harvesters who are highly valued for their exceptional skill in picking the ripest cherries at each pass. Each tree is visited up to seven times during the harvest to ensure that only fully red ripe cherries are picked.
The cherries are then moved to the farm's solar dryer patios (large greenhouse with ceramic floors) for pre-drying. After 2-3 days of pre-drying on the ceramic floors, they are moved to the farm’s raised beds, also in the covered greenhouse, where they slowly dry for around 10 days. Finally, the almost dried honey’d coffee is placed in a mechanical dryer or ‘Guardiola’, for one day to complete the process.
In order to thrive, high quality coffee requires specific growing conditions. However, these conditions are facing increased risks due to changing weather patterns resulting from climate change. Aquiares is mitigating the effects of climate change by adapting their practices through strategies that aim to reduce water pollution, soil erosion, waste and water usage. Given that soil health is the most important factor for a successful farm, Aquiares adopts sustainable methods to naturally improve the farm’s volcanic soil.
In practical terms, this means that the organic matter from pruning and the leaf litter from the coffee and shade trees are left to feed soil microbes and provide organic nutrients which improve overall soil health. The diversified shade trees (over 40 species) also cool the ground, slowing the ripening of the coffee, which allows sugars from the mucilage to be fully absorbed by the bean, thus improving cup quality.
In recent years, Aquiares has made strides in achieving carbon neutrality and measures its greenhouse gas emissions to calculate its carbon emissions against its offsets. Join Aquiares GM, Diego Robelo as he discuss their approach towards sustainability at origin in this episode of the 5THWAVE Podcast (Timestamp: 10:01 - 19:25).