San Marcos is the name of a micro-mill in Tarrazu, run by Jorge Gutierrez. It is just outside the town of San Marcos de Tarrazu, in the Tarrazu valley proper. While the mill is a new Penagos type system and will take coffee from cherry to export-ready green coffee, Jorge has years and years of experience as a member of the local coffee cooperative. But the fact is, coop membership has not allowed many of the farmers to actually get ahead in their coffee business, since they trade their coffee cherry to the coop mill, rather than a more valuable finished product. Given that building a micro mill is a large investment for a farmer, but ultimately he will receive the value of a finished, exportable product, not a raw material. The fact is, the Gutierrez family has some fantastic farms: This coffee is from specific farms that are side by side, San Luis and San Pedro, located at 1700-1750 meters altitude. They are planted in a mix of Caturra and Catuai Rojo cultivars, and the total land is 6 manzanas (about 4 hectares or nearly 10 acres).
This San Pedro/San Luis lot has a potent dry fragrance from the ground coffee; cocoa, chocolate-almond biscotti, hazelnut. They sound like mid-range muted roast tones, but the way they are manifested in this cup, it's almost aggressive. The wet aroma is actually a little less potent, but has a nice chocolate-covered raisin scent, a hint of cherries, dry roasted peanut. The cup flavors have that classic Tarrazu origin character, a balance of brightness, bittersweet chocolate, fruit and citrus. Cocoa-powder and light fudge is paired with more piquant apple and orange brightness. The aftertaste lingers as a zesty citrus acidic snap, with sweetness of honey, and soft chocolate notes elegantly disappearing. The warming sensations of chocolate, braced by brightness and balanced with sweet sapid tastes make this a very pleasurable cup. When I put it in a lineup of other coffee origins, it has strong nut flavors, hazelnut and roasted peanut. But it is not at all like the way a Brazil coffee would show peanut character. We like brewing this coffee here at the warehouse: It's not exotic, but if you wonder why Costa Rica has a reputation for fine coffee, this San Marcos lot should provide a good object lesson.