A classic Costa Rica flavor profile with cocoa roast tones, great balance between cane sugar sweetness and bittersweet flavors. Top notes feature peach and apple pie. City roast is brighter but a bit thin in mouthfeel. City+ is ideal, but it works well up 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.
The dry fragrance has light brown sugar notes, like a Turbinado raw sugar, with traces of peach. The wet aroma is much sweeter, with buttercream frosting notes, and tons of vanilla. Like all coffees the cup character depends on the roast level, and here the lighter roasts are quite dynamic. Peach tea notes, accented with a twist of citrus peel define the City roast cup. There is a cane sugar sweetness, with raw cocoa in the finish. We enjoyed the darker roast even more: Darker tones emerge, with toasted malt roast tones, bittersweet cocoa powder, and apple pie fruit notes. The aftertaste has suggestions of baker's cocoa emerging. It's a bright, balanced cup, perhaps not overly complex, but very 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.