Costa Rica – Batamba, Red Honey Coffee
This is another brilliant addition to our “private collection” of coffees from around the world. Unlike many if its Central American neighbours Costa Rica has benefitted hugely from political stability. According to the “Freedom of the world” index it is the 37th most democratic country in the world, and the 12th happiest country in the World Happiness report.
The first reference to the commercial production of coffee in Costa Rica is 1779 and coffee from this origin first appeared in the UK in 1843 when a Guernseyman, William Le Lacheur sent the first shipment. Up until World War 2 the UK was the principal importer of Costa Rican coffee.
Today there are eight recognised coffee growing regions in the most famous of which is Tarrazu. The coffee we have selected is from the Dota canton and in particular the district of Santa Maria which is located in the South West of the country. Finally the name Batamba is the part of the Santa Rosa farm on which this coffee is grown.
So why does this coffee achieve such a premium in comparison with other coffees from Costa Rica?
As with most premium coffees demand significantly outstrips supply. In the case of the Batamba coffee, rarity is just one factor, however just as significant is the coffee varietal and how it is processed.
Most coffee aficionados will be familiar with the term “Arabica” and “Robusta” as the main coffee species, however beneath these headline names are a significant number of varietals.
In the case of the Batamba coffee the varietal is “Geisha”. Originally from the Kaffa region of Ethiopia and in particular the Gori Gesha forest. The varietal has almost legendary status and achieves incredible prices when offered at auction. It is noted for its floral and intense fruit notes.
I turn now to how the coffee is processed once the coffee cherries have been picked. Historically there have been two main process types, washed and natural. The washed process sees the outer pulp of the coffee cherry being removed immediately after picking followed by a “washing” of the coffee bean to remove the sticky “mucilage”. The coffee is then dried and the final layer of “parchment” is removed. The result is a very “clean” taste profile and is the version most commonly found on the Supermarket shelf.
Natural process is far simpler. The whole coffee cherry is dried and at the appropriate time the outer shell is removed. These coffees have an intense fruitiness as a result of the flavours in the skin of the coffee cherry seeping into the coffee bean.
So far so good! Today how coffee is processed is a big deal as it is recognised as being an inherent part of the quality of the final beverage. Today there are many options between washed and natural, each of which delivers a different taste profile.
In the case of the Batamba coffee the process selected is known as “Red honey”.
The Ripe cherries are monitored and only picked with a brix (sweetness) content of 20% or greater. They are then taken to the micro mill where the whole cherry is fermented for 18 hours before being de-pulped, which is the process of removing the outer skin and flesh of the cherry.
The de-pulped coffee is then taken to the drying patios where it briefly rests under full sun for a couple of days before moving to the raised beds of the greenhouses where the beans are constantly turned for 15 days until dry thereby achieving their distinctive taste profile.
As with all the coffees in our Private Collection the Costa Rica Batamba, Red cherry makes one appreciate just how complex is the world of coffee. We’re really excited to offer you another soupçon of coffee greatness!