Oscar and Francisca Chacón are third-generation coffee producers, but the coffee is more than just in their family heritage: It’s in their hearts and souls as well. The couple is committed to quality and innovation, and are among the very first farmers in Costa Rica to produce Honey and Natural process specialty coffee.
In 2005, after years of delivering their cherry to a cooperative for the going market price, they decided to join the brand-new “micromill revolution” and buy their own depulper to have more control over the quality and the price they received for their lots. “At first, we didn’t know what we were doing,” Oscar explains. “We were just experimenting.” That experimentation led to some of the most exciting new flavor profiles we have ever tasted: Now, the Chacons produce a wide range of Honey process coffees, modulating the drying time in order to create different effects in the cup.
Necessity bred more innovation for the family when an earthquake in 2008 wiped out electricity and water to their area during the harvest. Unable to run the depulpers or to wash the mucilage off to produce Washed lots, Francisca took inspiration from her knowledge of African coffee production and quickly built raised beds on the property.
Tasting Notes: A stellar fruit forward cup of coffee. Similar to the Black Pearl Processing but a little stronger and more wild in its fruity factor. Super clean, medium bodied with some decent acidity. Lighter roasts are a bit higher acidity giving some great sweetness and a stronger winy grape and red fruit tone balanced with a more malty dark tone, a coffee version of jellied toast. Medium roasts reduce some of the wild fruity aspects of the cup along with reducing the more acidic notes, but build much more of a malty chocolaty tone. The cup retains a more refined tart red fruit note (think cranberry) up until 2nd crack.
Roasting Notes: High chaff and will roast slightly two toned, the cup is well worth the challenge for you Natural process fans. Great at the lighter roast points but holds up nicely at any roast before the 2nd crack. Not a dark roast candidate.
A glowing example of coffee’s potential in Costa Rica is Finca Calle Lilies in Poas de Alajuela; in the mountains to the north of the country’s capital of San Jose. As little as six years ago there was nothing where Las Lajas now produces exceptional micro-lots. “We’re a family of six siblings, including myself. We wanted a family business that would do just that; keep business in the family. We set out to create jobs for each other and now we almost have more work than we can handle!” – Donna Chacon
Las Lajas’ reputation for quality precedes it; the care with which the Chacon family manages their mill and processing has put their Honey and Natural coffees in steep demand. Doña Francisca proudly showcased the Red and Yellow Honeys – their two favorite lots drying on African beds and the different methods for drying Naturals, some of which are dried in deep layers under plastic and others that are dried on stacked beds. Doña Francisca’s husband, Don Oscar, puts it this way: “We play with processing curves the same way roasters play with roast curves: adjusting the variables of time and temperature to see what characteristics appear in the cup.”
This curiosity and willingness to experiment and find a new level of excellence is apparent in the final product: explosively fruity coffees with complex acidity and a bright finish.