We’re in the thick of the brutal St. Louis summer now at Sump. While we can all agree that this was the perfect season to finally invest in a badass new HVAC system for the shop, I think the only thing we might be more excited about right now is the introduction of two new coffees from Costa Rica.
The first is a fully washed microlot coffee from Finca El Rafelillo, a small farm in the Leòn Cortez district of Tarruzú, Costa Rica. The good coffee people of Cafe Imports have done their homework, becoming involved with the on site transportation of coffees from farm to mill. This gives us as consumers a better picture of what those processes are like, making traceability of coffees possible as well as relevant for us. The small farm of El Rafelillo, as well as others throughout the Tarruzu district, have their coffee processed at the Rio Jorco micromill. The operators of Rio Jorco manage their own coffee farm (Los Lobos) in addition to paying premium prices to the number of small farmers whose coffees they process. Having an intimate knowledge of both coffee growing and processing, as well as exportation and knowledge of their out of country markets, quality of coffee cherries is thoroughly monitored and compensated through greater financial premiums up front.
While we can’t claim much more knowledge about these systems than what we’re told from other parties, the results speak for themselves once we begin roasting and brewing the El Rafelillo. When bringing in a South or Central American coffee, there is always a moment of initial let down for me. Unless there is something just extremely exceptional or bizarre to immediately latch on to, it's often hard to find something entirely novel about the experience of brewing another one of these coffees. After a few different brews of the El Rafelillo though, I’m going to chalk that up to operator error on my end, because this cup is excellent. There is a familiar chocolate/caramel backdrop to the flavor profile, which I would argue you’re going to be able to find 9.99 times out of 10 if you want to in a cup of coffee. From that starting point though, coffee enthusiasts are going to find an extremely pleasant melon or cantaloupe-like acidity present in this coffee. In addition to the familiar and pleasant sweetnesses present in the cup, there is a palate heaviness to the coffee which often gets under-emphasized by our v60 brewers at the shop. With proper execution, this cup will satisfy the coffee drinker looking for something with nuance and excitement, as well as suffice for those “I just need a cup of coffee” moments we all experience.