We recently updated the recipe of our Red Brick blend, and while we usually like getting a blog post out on the day of the changeover, a little thing called Christmas slightly got in the way this time. Thankfully, now we’re in the calmer waters of January, we can update you on the new blend, which is a short run mix of four of our most delicious coffees of the winter season.
This special short run blend marries two new coffees from our favourite region in Guatemala – Huehuetenango – with two familiar coffees from beautiful Tarrazu in Costa Rica. We’ve always been fans of combining Guatemala and Costa Rica in espresso, the chocolate and stone fruit of the former is always complimented by the sweet citrus and caramel of the latter.
The four crops are from very similar altitudes and are all processed the same way, which means they not only roast in a similar way but also extract similarly, making it a tasty, easy to work with espresso. The dynamic flavour is supported by the mix of Catuai, Caturra and Pache varieties, all developed to not only yield well in the areas where it thrives but also to give an excellent result in the cup.
The four components start with Los Dos Socios, a 16-acre farm in the small village of El Chalum, named after the abundance of Chalum trees (also known as Inga Micheliana trees) that grow everywhere in the area. Here, Matías Villatoro Concepción started planting coffee in 1990, and now almost 30 years later he has beautiful sprawling fields of Caturra, Pache and Pacamara in between the shade of Chalum, Cushin and Paterna trees.
This year saw some irregular rainfall and longer dry spells in Huehue than normal, but the presence of abundant natural shade and leaf coverage on the ground helped his soil hang on to the moisture that there was. Working in conjunction with agronomists who specialise in coffee, Matias is able to keep his quality and yield up while minimising the impact to the environment from farming. This lot is an exciting first purchase for us from him, and we look forward to seeing what he does in the future!
Our second component from Huehue is the El Durazno (The Peach). A good sized farm at just over 97 acres, El Durazno was established in 1995 for the sole purpose of farming and harvesting coffee. Due to the size, the owner Octavio López Camposeco has subdivided his farm into smaller plots to better manage the different needs of the land and coffee trees depending on soil quality, sun exposure, wind speed and shade conditions. In general, he fertilises the coffee three times per year, each time with a specific formula depending on the stage of the maturation of the cherries and the climate. This way he has effectively managed to keep the dreaded leaf rust at bay or at sub-critical levels.
This has allowed him to continue growing varieties that are not necessarily the most rust resistant, but all the more delicious when it comes to flavours, such as Caturra, Catuai and Red Pache. This year his harvest was up by 20%, further testament to the successes of careful management of resources and the benefits of working with the land itself, supported closely by agronomists. It’s our first year buying Octavios coffee, and we hope to make him a regular supplier going forwards!
The first of the Costa Ricans in the blend is Arracaches, a farm from the Solis Blancos (the brothers behind Don Oscar) which many will remember from previous years. They are 4th generation farmers in San Marcos, Tarrazu.
After their father passed away and left them the farm, they formed Don Oscar; a new direction for their family business named in honour of their dad. The brothers looked at the developments in micro milling happening around them and after two years of planning they built their own mill in 2013. They called it The Coffee Factory and they now process around 200 quintales of coffee each year (a quintal is a local unit of measurement; one quintal equals around 46kg). They have several farms and the Arracheches is one of them, named after the root vegetable of the same name that grows extensively in the area.
They grow 100% Catuai here, and the farm stretches from 1,800m to 1,900m in altitude. Even if the soil around the farm has a lot of rocks in it, they produce a healthy crop under their careful management of the soil and nutrients. This is our second year buying their coffee and we’re looking forward to following their progress in years to come!
And last but not least is a coffee from one of my all-time favourite producing families! Who could resist buying coffee from a farm named after a sunflower?
Well, it isn’t just the name Los Girasoles that charms us, the coffee stands out on the cupping table as well. This is our second year buying coffee from Girasoles, one of the farms owned and worked by the Calderon family, Ricardo and Lourdes and their kids Fernanda, Lizeth, Diego and Michael. They own several small farms that we have bought from in the past, and they process all the cherry and parchment at their Los Angeles mill. Over the years they have placed repeatedly in the Cup of Excellence, further cementing their place as one of the best producers in Costa Rica.
On our recent visit were excited to spend time with the family in their new warehouse where they have built a new cupping and espresso lab, ensuring that they have control over the quality of their coffee from the plant to the brew. We think this coffee, and the blend that it now goes into, tastes a little bit like sunshine in a cup, and we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!
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