Coffee category: Bright
Process: Perla Negra Natural
What to expect: Coffee from Las Lajas is always a treat and a coffee we look forward to receiving every year. This year we have opted for a perla negra processed lot that has some dark fruit notes as well as some sweet fermentation notes. Expect notes of blackberry, raspberry and peach and a smooth caramel sweetness.
Producer: Oscar and Francisca Chacón
Region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Central Valley
Altitude: 1,400-1,600m above sea level
Varietals: Caturra, Catuai
This coffee is a perla negra micro lot from the famous Las Lajas Micromill in Costa Rica. The owners, Oscar and Francisca Chacón, are third-generation coffee producers but the coffee is more than just in their family heritage: It's in their hearts and souls as well. The couple is committed not only to farm in an environmentally and socially responsible way, but also to produce coffee of the highest quality. They are innovative with regards to processing and were one of the early innovators in Costa Rica with regards to perfecting different honey and natural methods of processing.
In 2005, after years of delivering their cherry to a cooperative for the going market price, they decided to join the brand-new "micromill revolution" and buy their own depulper to have more control over the quality and the price they received for their lots. "At first, we didn't know what we were doing," Oscar explains. "We were just experimenting." That experimentation led to some of the most exciting new flavor profiles we have ever tasted: Now, the Chacons produce a wide range of Honey process coffees, modulating the drying time in order to create different effects in the cup.
Necessity bred more innovation for the family when an earthquake in 2008 wiped out electricity and water to their area during the harvest. Unable to run the depulpers or to wash the mucilage off to produce Washed lots, Francisca took inspiration from her knowledge of African coffee production and quickly built raised beds on the property. Their Natural lots caught the attention of the coffee world and the rest is history.
These days, Las Lajas focuses on several variations of both Honey and Natural process:
- Yellow Honey: Coffee is turned hourly on raised beds for a few days, then transferred to a greenhouse and turned regularly.
- Red Honey: Coffee is turned several times a day and dried for longer in the greenhouse.
- Black Honey: Coffee is turned once a day.
- Perla Negra Natural: Coffee dries directly in the sun for 10 days, rotating constantly, and then is transferred to bags and left for 2–3 days before being moved to raised beds.
- Alma Negra: Drying starts in the greenhouse for a few days. Then it is brought to the greenhouse and piled up at night and moved to the raised beds during the sunshine hours.
The farm produces 100% Arabica coffee, primarily Caturra and Catuaí varietals, which is grown in the shade of native trees. Organic composts are produced on site using vermiculture (worm composting), and the production process is entirely free of chemicals and agro-toxins.