We are big fans of Helsar, and are offering several lots this year from this excellent West Valley mill, as we did last year. If you have been around Sweet Maria's site a while, you know the name. Helsar de Zarcero represents the combined efforts of Ricardo Perez and the brothers Rodriguez. Their farms are on a high ridge in the area of Alajuela, in the coffee areas of both Zarcero and Naranjo. They grow coffee, and also have formed a group of producers, for whom they process and dry the coffee to very high standards. I have visited the mill quite a few times now, and every time I see it, there are new innovations and improvements. They grow Typica, Caturra an a type called Villa Sarchi. The coffee is grown between 1650 - 1800 meters. Helsar is an excellent Micro-Mill and dry most of their top grade coffees on raised beds/screens in a covered tent (to increase heat and prevent rain damage). In fact, I was there last with Maria and Ben in the middle of a downpour, and not a single drop of water could be found on the drying patios! Coffee can be ruined so easily by small oversights in process and drying, and the Helsar boys seem to know this so well. Anyway, there care for the coffee shows in the cup. It's a classic, bright, clean Costa Rica cup. The dry fragrance has very attractive chocolate milk and cocoa powder sweet smells, as well as orange and caramel traces. Ditto on the wet aroma; caramel, soft chocolate sweetness, orange hint. The cup flavors are marked by sweet orangey citrus character, and hazelnut roast taste, especially at the City+ degree-of-roast. A more "candy-like" orange flavor is evident at first, fading into citrus peel aftertaste. The body is quite light, but silky and fits the refreshing, bright cup. It's not the most complex cup, but minimalist and "elegantly simple" would be a fair characterization. At Full City roast, there is appreciably more weight to the mouthfeel, and the cup takes on milk chocolate flavors with a slight orange emphasis. It works well under a nice, wide range of roast levels. It's a very bright, clean cup, and unlike the "Miel" or honey coffees we offer, a classic, traditional Costa Rica in that regard. I would challenge any high-profile Costa Rica coffee from other mills to go head-to-head with this Helsar lot!