Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Rica

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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:10 pm

Well as you can no doubt guess, I was hoping to be able to say soon, but unfortunately I lost my internet connection near the end of the auction, and I'm very disappointed to say we won't see any of the lots in the UK. For the other Europeans amongst us, one has gone to Kaffebrennerie and one to Solberg & Hansen in Norway, and one (that I thought was a particularly good lot :) )to Dabov in Bulgaria. Most of the rest have gone to asia. Full details can be found on the CoE Auction Results page.

A nice (and very small) factlet is that a lot of the buyers of the CoE Costa Rica this year were on the International Jury (which I forgot to include in yesterday's post, was also their biggest ever with 30 people).
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:46 pm

As I mentioned previously, Costa Rica has a very high cost of living and lots of the population is university educated (and they have a ~97% literacy rate - which is slightly more than China, Australia and Brasil). This means that getting Costa Rican workers to do the seasonal work of coffee picking is very difficult, so many farms rely on families from other Central American countries like Nicaragua. One of the larger farms I visited - Santa Alina - has about 300 workers who return there each year. The farm has a large building to house the families and puts on courses (such as cooking and reading) for the workers and their families.
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:14 pm

A late minute Saturday factlet!

We visited the West Valley region, and one of the factors that struck me is just how close and interrelated the farms are. I visited Carlos Arrieta and his family, who's coffee we buy. Next door (literally the other side of farm entrance track) is Finca Leoncio, owned by 'Tonio Barrantes Zuniger, who he is friends with. Less than 2 minutes drive down the hill brings us to the Vista Al Valle mill and farm - the owner of whom is Carlos' cousin (they've also previously won Cup of Excellence with Finca Fidel in 2013). This concentration of farms in an area and connection between successful specialty farmers seems to be common in Costa Rica.
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:38 pm

The late night Sunday factlet to follow the late night Saturday one...

With the specialty farming community in Costa Rica being close knit - and Costa Rica itself being very small - it's no surprise that there is a definite risk of trends or fads. One example of this would be the Geisha varietal. With the very high prices and acclaim Geisha began to receive in the last few years, many Costa Rican farmers have started planting it. There are challenges to growing Geisha over something like Caturra or Typica - particularly that the Geisha plants are quite large and less densely packed with fruit, so less coffee per area of ground is achieved. Thankfully, from what I saw in during my trip, most farms seem to be being fairly cautious in their experimentations with new varietals etc - I've heard stories of farmers in other countries ripping out good plant stock in search of a better return in a few years.
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:04 pm

Monday proves my undoing, and I'm behind, so two more interrelated factlets (not specific to Costa Rica this time!)

1) the ripe coffee cherry contains the green bean, the parchment layer around it and the mucilage. The mucilage is a fairly thin and tough sticky layer around the bean. In the space between the mucilage and the skin of the bean, is what is called the pulp. The term pulp gives the impression of fruit flesh, but in fact it's more liquid - like around a single pomegranate seed.

2) and given that the pulp isn't something you can chew, the way to taste a coffee cherry is to place it to your lips and squeeze it to pop it.
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby bruceb » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:03 pm

I don't have any particular questions or comments to make about what you have been sharing with us, but I am enjoying it very much, Roland. Thanks for making :D the effort.
Three Francesconi (CMA) espresso machines - Rossi, San Marco, LaCimbali, Faema and 2 Mazzer Major grinders- CoffeeTech Maggionlino, Hottop, Alpenröst and HW Precision roasters.
I decided I needed a bit of a change so I roasted some Monsooned Malabar. That was a change!
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:29 pm

Thanks Bruce :)

Quick one for today - you can identify the Typica varietal of arabica because the tips of the young leaves are brown/copper coloured - I'll upload a photo tomorrow when I can scale it down for the forum size limit.

*EDIT* and here it is!

typica leaves.jpg
typica leaves.jpg (23.36 KiB) Viewed 6926 times
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:43 pm

Another day missed :oops: ...

So...

1) In a dry mill, there are three methods of sorting the beans. The most traditional/basic/reliable is by hand - beans go along a conveyor and sorters pick out anything that is black or damaged or not coffee. They can be put through screens to separate bean sizes. A modern variant of this is optical sorting - a machine uses a sensor to separate uneven beans as they pass through it. The third system is a density bed - a vibrating plate causes the less dense beans and other material to split from the whole and dense beans. Dry mills tend to use a mixture of these methods, depending on what they want to achieve.

2) Coffee arrives at the dry mill with the layer of parchment on - this is a thin, fairly brittle shell around the bean. From personal experience, I can say it's pretty hard work removing it by hand. So dry mills use a de-husking machine. This abrades away the parchment and then the beans pass through a stream of air, which splits the light parchment fragments from the heavier beans.
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:04 pm

1) Costa Rica (as with most Central American countries) typically bags green coffee in 69kg sacks. This is because they work in lb - 69kg sacks are actually 150lb sacks. However, some buyers prefer other sizes and some exporters are now starting to bag coffee in other sizes (although they still prefer round numbers of lbs :wink: )

2) when I visited our exporters dry mill in May, it was running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with 4 people each on a day shift and a night shift. This was to keep up with getting all the coffee that had been picked and sent from wet mills ready for export and into shipping containers (that each hold about 200 -250 sacks of coffee).
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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Re: Things I didn't know about coffee production in Costa Ri

Postby RolandGlew » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:20 pm

Sorry for the sudden stop - too much heat this week and my brain has fried! I think I'm coming towards the end of the main (and non-specific) stuff. There's a few more bits, but I need to check some stuff before I can put them up. Anyone whose got any questions, chip in! I probably won't be able to answer them, but will be glad to give it a go ;)
3 Cup Chemex, Hario Syphon, French Press, 5 Ibrik, Stove Top/Moka Pot, Pour Over, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Kantans, AeroPress, Vario Grinder, Porlex hand grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder, Turkish Hand Grinder Missing Handle :P
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