Grape, Molasses, Floral
It’s crazy to think that it’s been nearly 13 years since we began working with Ricardo Perez and his famous mill: Helsar. Helsar is a quality focused wet mill that historically produces three types of coffees. The first is a blend of producers from the region – a blend they call “Helsar”. The second are small lots separated by producer. And the third are very small lots from Ricardo’s farm Santa Lucia, separated by variety and processing method. Normally, we buy the latter two types of coffees: partner farmers who work with Helsar, and special processing variety lots from Ricardo’s farm.
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This past year was a crazy low harvest where producers in the region were down by as much as 75% from their previous harvest. To add complexity to this problem, the harvest was compressed to nearly 5 weeks, where normally it extends more than 10 weeks. These two factors made it nearly impossible for Ricardo to separate lots by farmer. First, the lots were tiny due to the low harvest, and second, the number of cherry deliveries was large due to the compressed harvest.
At first, I was very disappointed to learn this, as we normally like to have full traceability to the farm, day lot and plot where the coffee comes from. But as I tasted the coffee, I was able to appreciate the silver lining. For starters, the quality is very solid – due to the low yield and even ripening, the quality of the coffee cherry was higher than normal. Additionally, due to having to manage a smaller number of lots, the Helsar team was able to pay closer attention to the minute details that make the difference between good and great.
The result is a very sweet, round and lightly fruity coffee. When I first cupped it in Costa Rica, I thought it would make an excellent espresso. The coffee itself is mostly Caturra and is from producers from the Llano Bonito de Naranjo region, which is the area that basically surrounds the Helsar mill in the beautiful West Valley region of Costa Rica.