The Costa Rica Las Lajas Finca Calle Liles is this fortnight's Fresh Crop coffee feature. Jack shares recipes for both filter and espresso below for this fortnight's Fresh Crop Exclusive!
In 2019 my colleagues had the opportunity of traveling to Costa Rica, with the intention of visiting the coffee producing family Oscar and Francisca Chacón, at their Las Lajas micromill. The Padre team brought back some amazing stories and knowledge from their time, and we were excited to release coffee grown by the Chacón’s.
Coffee director, Fay, with Oscar and Francisca Chacón during a visit to Costa Rica in 2019.
At the time, I was (and still am) heavily passionate about Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee and didn’t look much further into Costa Rica than what my teammates could offer. I was willing and able to talk about Ethiopian growing regions and marathon runners; Kenyan processing methods and the Rift Valley musicians, yet I couldn’t point out Costa Rica on a map, let alone discuss its quality coffee production!
I am now proud to share that my Costa Rican coffee knowledge is now up to scratch, just in time for our latest release, the Costa Rica Las Lajas Finca Calle Liles Black Honey!
Costa Rica’s rainfall and varying altitudes create ideal growing conditions for coffee production, contributing to the aroma, body, flavour, and acidity of some diverse and complex cups. First introduced to the country in the late 1700’s, by the 1820’s coffee became a major agricultural export, significantly benefiting economic growth.
Not only was Costa Rica the pioneer of Central American coffee production, the development of small-scaled micomills allowed for individual coffee producers and smallholders to grow within the nation’s commercial development of the coffee market.
Coffee trees at Finca Las Lajas, 2019
I find the concept of micromills to be very interesting. By investing in machinery, producers can harvest and process their coffees in a variety of ways without relying on third-party mills, which can cut down on operating costs as well as increase the asking price for coffees. Because of the smaller-scale and often shared operation, producers like the Chacón’s are able to spend time developing their honey processing technique, which they are now acclaimed as being some of the first producers to do so.
(Left) Francisca Chacón with coffee cherries. (Right) Oscar Chacón explaining growing practices.
The Chacón family’s innovative and creative approach sets them apart from other farms. Their Finca Calle Liles Black Honey coffee, processed at Oscar and Francisca’s Las Lajas organic micromill is located in Sabanilla de Alajuela in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Their water saving methods, and belief in preserving the environment through organic practices really resonates with me.
Organic coffee in Costa Rica is pretty much unheard of, and it’s very exciting we get to experience such a high quality cup, partnered with a high quality outlook and passion for coffee production.
Coffee cherries on drying patios at Finca Las Lajas micromill.
The processing method ‘Honey’ has nothing to do with taste profile or any addition of that sweet viscous bee-made goodness! Honey process refers to removing the coffee cherry skin, exposing the mucilage - a sticky texture, sweet flavour, and a golden amber colour reminiscent of honey. Producers in Central America called the mucilage ‘Honey’ in Spanish.
The Las Lajas Finca Calle Liles is processed in their ‘Black Honey’ method. All of the mucilage is left on, and the coffee is turned only once per day, where fermentation occurs throughout the drying process.
This process usually expresses some seriously syrupy, boozy, fruity and jam like flavours, and the Calle Liles is no exception.
When first tasting this cup, I was gladly met with that big and bold coffee I had come to expect from my first experience with Las Lajas, when my colleagues returned from Costa Rica a few years ago. I was excited to find the same complexities in the cup. A bright winey acidity that evens out with a chocolate orange finish. Massive body! Super sweet yet creamy and smooth.
The link-up between my tastebuds and the Las Lajas Finca Calle Liles is just as special as the connection Padre has with Costa Rica, and I’m now just as excited about Costa Rican cups as I am with Ethiopian or Kenyans.
Preheat your kettle to 98 degrees with filtered water and while your kettle boils, weigh and grind your coffee and set aside.
Fold your filter paper along its seam and place within the V60 dripper. Sit the dripper on top of your vessel (cup or server) and place on top of your scales.
Once boiled, pour water over the filter paper to get rid of any unwanted paper residue and to heat your brewing vessel. Discard the water left in the vessel.
Add your coffee to the dripper, giving the cone a light shake to ensure a flat bed of ground coffee.
Tare off your scales and you’re ready to go!
Start your timer and evenly pour 45ml of hot water over the coffee, I like to move the kettle in a small circular motion, working my way from inside to out, ensuring the grinds are fully saturated. You will start to see bubbles in the saturated coffee, this is the blooming process and will make for an even extraction and enhance those lovely, sweet flavours. Allow to sit for 45-50 seconds
Once the coffee has bloomed for around 45 seconds you can start your first pour. Using the same circular motion as your bloom, begin pouring from the centre and working your way to the outside of the dripper and back. Keep a consistent pour until you have added around 150ml. Wait for the water to run through the coffee until it is almost completely drained. This should be around the 1:50 mark.
Start your second pour with the remaining 180ml of water using the same technique as the last. Let the water run completely through the coffee and filter paper until drained.
Your coffee has brewed, nice one!
Domestic espresso recipe (using a Breville Bambino)
On the Slayer LP we use 22g of coffee and aim for a yield of 38g, however your machine and set up will determine what dose (and therefore, yield) you should aim for. Some domestic machines have 20-22g baskets, however some will only be able to hold 16-18g. Use the ratio to adjust the espresso recipe.