Sangre de Toro means "Bull's blood" and it describes very, very ripe coffee cherry. I have heard this crimson-colored level of ripeness referred to as Sangre de Toro in several countries, so when I mentioned it to Diego Calderon at the Los Angeles micro-mill in Santa Maria de Dota area of Tarrazu, he knew exactly what I was talking about. The idea was to create a very small lot from La Bisunga which is near the Los Angeles beneficio, and the house of Diego and his father Ricardo Calderon. With this lot, I asked if we could pay the coffee pickers extra to re-sort their coffee fruit. In other words, they usually come to the mill and simply deposit them in the hopper, so varying levels of ripeness are pulped and processed together. But I wanted to find out what would happen if they did as they do in Kenya; have pickers lay out the cherry and resort it so that only these Sangre de Toro fruits were included in the lot. What I anticipated was a slightly winey fruit character perhaps with a slightly milder acidity, a more rounded flavor profile, perhaps with a bit less bracing brightness and structure, but great depth and mild fruit tones. I guess that's just my experience with really ripe coffee cherry. With the added labor to hand sort the coffee cherry and careful processing we paid the highest price for this lot of any Costa Rica coffee, but it is well worth it we think. I am proud of this lot because it was instigated on the farm, and intended from the start as a special Shrub lot that I felt fellow roasters would truly appreciate.This coffee is part of our Farm Gate pricing program.
The ripeness of the coffee cherry is definitely brought to bear the aromas and cup flavors of the Sangre de Toro lot. From light to dark roast levels, the dry fragrance has intense chocolate tones, with vanilla and fruit traces. It is in the wet aroma that indications of cup flavor reveal themselves; plum, apple, cinnamon bark, melted butter and caramel sauce emerge. I was really amazed at how different my 3 test roast levels were in the cup, each excellent in their own regard. The lightest roast came through with the melted butter mouthfeel and sweet flavor, ripe lemon and tangerine fruit notes (a soft acidity paired with these flavors, not puckering). It finishes silky and super sweet. At City+ the cup has more malic acidity and apple fruit tones, a light brown sugar sweetness as sucrose develops with the roast, hazelnut in the finish and a very lush mouthfeel. I roasted my third sample toward 2nd crack, Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide. ">FC+, without entering it at all. This had an aggressive roast chocolate flavor, rounded dark cocoa sweetness in the finish, buttery mouthfeel, plum fruit notes. It's a compact flavor profile, well-structured but nothing outrageous; yes as it cools it becomes more and more convincing of it's intrinsic qualities. I don't get the winey fruit I anticipate from this project, but I can't be more pleased with the cupping results. I can only guess for now how incredible the SO espresso could be fro this lot ... until I set up another session to roast just for that purpose!
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