Licho's is a coffee that I feel shows our development as a roaster over the years. We first bought this coffee in the Cup of Excellence program (a great way to meet a grower). Back then we bought it from an import broker; they helped us bring this coffee in because we were a small buyer. Now we buy directly from the farm!
Four years ago I went out to the farm and did the deal then and there with the brothers. I love the fact that I simply 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 how much they wanted, and we shook hands. Then we got back into the 4x4 and drove away. That year we agreed to 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 family 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 either Villa Sarchi or Bourbon, but in recent years we've started to see other varietals from the farm.
Now in 2019 we've got this Pacamara for the third year in a row – as well as a yellow honey Geisha! This is a result of the nursery they started working on not long ago starting to bear fruit.
The brothers work the mill and farms themselves. They have basically no hired labour, except for pickers during the harvest. With the help of the third generation, they work the mill and drying patios, prune the coffee fields, fertilise, and so on; and they do it all year round.
The Aguilera brothers understand quality at the farm and mill level, and this is why we are excited about working with them. Most of the siblings own farmland as well as co-managing the micro mill they installed eight years ago, which they built with the earnings from their fourth-place Cup of Excellence win in 2007. That's the year I first found the farm!
Processing-wise, this coffee is white honey processed. But what does that mean? When the coffee cherry is picked, you either leave the cherry on (Natural processing) or remove it fairly shortly after picking. When you remove the seed from the fruit (the coffee bean as we know it), there's a sticky mucilage that's usually removed using fermentation for Washed processing (as this one is). This requires an amount of water and can pollute local rivers and streams (don't worry, they're processing the water at the mill in this case). Add to this the problem of a general lack of water in Costa Rica. The Pulped Natural and Honey process is a perfect solution. There is a kind of de-plulper that can remove this mucilage and can be set to different degrees.
It started off as three types, but the range expanded over time: in the coffee world, there is white honey (removes the most), gold honey, yellow honey, red honey and black honey (removes the least).
Want to know a little more about Honey processing? Here's a video you might enjoy!
This is a Pacamara varietal coffee. Pacamaras are a little crazy on the cupping table. Pacamaras are exciting. I like Pacamaras! I could ramble on about Pacamaras for a while ... oh, wait a minute, I did! If you'd like to know more about this fantastic varietal, make sure to have a look at the article I wrote ...
You'll get a big, velvety dark chocolate on the first sip, but it's immediately joined by a hit of hops that's both zingy and complex. As it cools, the sweetness opens up and reminds me of Refresher sweets. It's a very interesting and elegant cup that lingers in the mouth.