An old favourite returns, a big favourite returns, one I hope you're as happy as me to see, hello Licho!
I first bought coffee from Finca Licho from a Cup of Excellence auction many, many years ago in 2007, where it finished 4th. This year we welcome Licho back for the ninth time and I'm super proud as always to be able to roast it for you lovely lot : )
Licho is a coffee that I feel shows our development as a roaster over the years. First we bought this coffee in the Cup of Excellence program (a great way to meet a grower), then we bought it from an import broker; they helped us bring in this coffee because we are a small coffee buyer. Then we bought directly from them. Then, three years ago, I went out to the farm and did the deal on the farm with the brothers. I love the fact that last year I walked onto the farm after cupping a particular lot in the exporter's office, asked how much they wanted, and there was a short conference. They came back and told me, then we shook hands. Then we got back into the 4x4 and drove away. That year we agreed a European-exclusive deal with them for this coffee, and this year we continue the close work we have been doing with them.
Grown by the Aguilera brothers in the province of Naranjo, in the volcanic Northern Cordiles corridor of the Western Valley, this coffee is cultivated at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level. Most of their coffee is of the Villa Sarchi variety, native to the area and excellent in the cup. Villa Sarchi is a Bourbon mutation (similar to Caturra and Pacas) found originally in Naranjo, West Valley. It is a dwarf variety with short internodes and usually higher-yielding production. There is also a little Caturra (around 30%) in this lot.
This coffee is honey processed, which is like the pulped natural method, so the fruit is removed from the seed of the coffee bush and left to dry. The main difference is that there is no water involved when the cherry is removed, so mucilage sticks to the bean. This can be dangerous, but it's necessary in these parts of Costa Rica where water is limited: in this area of Naranjo water is a precious commodity, so this method suits the location very well.
The coffee ends up clustering whilst drying because there is so much mucilage. So the coffee either needs to be turned regularly to stop this happening, or it has to be broken up. Over-fermentation can happen at this stage and you can end up with a not-so-good cup, but the Aguilera brothers are well-versed in this method and are some of the most skilled in Costa Rica.
Want to know a little more about honey processing? Here's a video you might enjoy!
The Aguileras are 12 brothers and sisters, all of whom are involved in coffee as inherited from their parents. The brothers work the mill and farms themselves with basically no hired labor, other than pickers during the harvest. With the help of the third generation, they work the mill and drying patios, prune the coffee fields, fertilize, etc, year-round. The Aguilera Bros understand quality at the farm and mill level, and this is why we are excited about working with them.
Coffee has been cultivated in Costa Rica since 1779. Currently, the regions producing the best quality are Tarrazu, West Valley, and Central Valley. Coffee production has been threatened the past decade due to a real-estate boom converting coffee-lands into prime development properties. San Jose, the capital, is right in the heart of Central Valley, where you will find private houses next to coffee farms. The value of these farms have now skyrocketed.
In the cup this coffee is as delicious as ever and you can see why it's become one of our most popular coffees year after year. On the front-end there's raspberry and golden sugar, then the sweetness kicks in alongside dark chocolate before finishing with cherry on the aftertaste.
- Country: Costa Rica
- Region: Western Valley
- Province: Alajuela
- Nearest city: Naranjo de Alajuela
- Farm: Finca Licho
- Producers: Aguilera Family
- Farm Size: 28.00 Hectares
- Coffee growing area: 9.10 Hectares
- Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
- Varietal: 70% Villa Sarchí & 30% Caturra
- Processing System: Yellow Honey