City+ to Full City+: At light roasts (City) it has a less resonant sweetness, so we recommend some development in the roaster after First Crack concludes. Entering 2nd crack is fine, but not recommended for the cup we describe.
This lot is from a rather small farm owned by Magdalena Vega. She delivers all the coffee fruit to the nearby Santa Lucia farm where it is processed at the Helsar de Zarcero micromill. The vast majority of this finca is planted in Caturra cultivar, though there is Catuai variety also mixed in. (In truth, farms are rarely planted exclusively in one variety of coffee). Magdalena inherited the farm from a larger plot shared between her seven brothers. It measures at less than 5 hectares and tops out near 1700 meters, producing about 10k lbs. a year of exportable green coffee. We have had a buying relationship with Helsar de Zarcero mill, and the owning partner/manager Ricardo Perez, for close to 8 years now. Each year we see quality refinements to their process, with new drying beds, warehouse space and dry mill equipment being added in the past season. And we see a consistent quality in that comes from their processing methods, a clean-tasting, classic Costa Rica character with both brightness and balance.
The Magdalena Vega lot has the dry fragrance of cane sugar with a buttery sweetness from the ground coffee. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics has a resonant brown sugar scent, baked apple, and powder cinnamon. The darker roast is markedly sweeter than our lightest City roast batch, with red berry fruit, and the burning sugar scent from Creme Brulee. The cup possess the archetype of Costa Rica coffee character in nut-to-chocolate roast tastes and restrained sweetness of caramelized sugars that balance it out. Lighter level City roasts seem a bit more basic (creamy nut tone, cane sugar) than the developed sweetness of City+ roasts; this coffee benefits from some time in the roaster as first crack concludes. These slightly darker levels (but prior to the start of 2nd crack) have a deeper range of sweetness, suggestions of blackberry honey, and chocolate ganache dessert. The complex, layered chocolate tones fade into a balanced bittersweetness in the long finish. It's a great drinking coffee, restrained and not showy. That's what we like in great Costa Rica lots.