Once again, Macho Arce is a bright, balanced cup showing subtle complexity as it cools. Dark berry notes, apple pie filling, red honey, and a citrus peel twist. Cocoa tones in deeper roast levels. City to Full City.
This is a separated lot from a single producer at the Helsar de Zarcero micromill. I had noticed this coffee when cupping in Costa Rica for its clean, classic West Valley character. It is from the farm of the Manuel "Macho" Arce family, a coffee we have selected many times in years past, and a farm I have visited many times. This coffee deserves it's own spotlight, and the Helsar mill has been moving more towards offering separated farm lots rather than the blends of years past. Both are valid, as much of the quality of this coffee is due to the excellent processing methods at this mill and the manager, Ricardo Perez. Each year they make improvements, recently adding new dry milling equipment and warehouse space for improved storage of coffee in the resting phase (reposo). Helsar uses forced demucilage equipment to machine-wash their coffee, an efficient method with low environmental impact that has similar outcomes to traditional wet-fermentation processing. As for the farm, Manuel Arce goes by the name "Macho": In Latin America, it is a nickname given to children with blonde hair. It doesn't mean "tough guy!" The vast majority of this finca is planted in Caturra cultivar, though I have seen small amounts of other types when walking the farm.
"Macho" and "elegant" are rarely used in the same sentence, but I have to say, the coffee of Macho Arce cups with such elegance, and is again one of the highlights of the year. Ground coffee smells like dark honey, with traces of peach, and canned fruit syrup. The stone fruit aspects are bolstered with the addition of hot water, and baked peach and nectarine smells highlight the steam, along with blackberry jam and a note of buttercream frosting. Like all coffees the cup character depends on the roast level, and here the lighter roasts are quite dynamic. Dark berry notes, accented with a twist of citrus peel define the City roast cup - a top note-lined cup laced with elegant brightness, and red honey sweetness. We enjoyed the darker roast quite a bit too: toasted malt roast tones, bittersweet cocoa powder, and apple pie fruit notes. The aftertaste has suggestions of baker's cocoa along with allusions to fig pudding. It's a bright, balanced cup, perhaps not overly complex, but quite refreshing, if a hot beverage can be characterized as such. The coffee roasts like the dense seed it is, compact and resisting browning a bit in the later stages. For us, thats a hallmark of high grown coffees.