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Carlos Montero Natural (Costa Rica)

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Flavour Description: Strawberry, Watermelon, Chocolate. 

Producer: Carlos Montero.

Region / Country:  Costa Rica

Varietal: Caturra.

Process: Natural Process.

Lot Name: El Llano.

Carlos Montero is one of the most prolific farmers to come out of the landscape of Costa Rica’s coffee producing culture. Some of his earliest memories recall picking up fallen coffee cherries off of the ground in order to help his family or make some extra spending money. When Carlos was growing up, Costa Rica felt like a different place - it was a country on the brink of development and Carlos remembers being brought up very humbly. Eli, his father, worked as an employee of a land owner that grew coffee in the area in which Carlos’ wet mill is today. Eli worked tirelessly as a farm hand, responsible for establishing many of the plantations still producing today, and was known around the village for selling lottery tickets to make extra money. Eventually, Carlos’ dad was able to acquire some land of his own in order to grow coffee and turned out to be one of the founding members of the world famous CoopeDota in 1960. The cooperative model of production continued to be the engine of coffee farming in Costa Rica  and enabled Eli and his wife, Clara Luz , to provide a good life for their family of 9.

The “El Llano” lot is located on the southern hills of El Llano de la Piedra, which is the small town where the Montero family lives. It was initially empty when Carlos and his dad bought it together in the late 80’s. Once purchased, they started planting coffee there with a loan from CoopeDota where they were still members. After a number of years, Carlos and Eli were able to use the first few years of its harvest to pay back the loan. Beto and Juan-Eli (Carlos brothers) would help their father in his portion of the plantation and Carlos would take care of his own. When Carlos decided to begin focusing on producing apples at La Pastora--they split and Eli gave the land to Carlos’ brothers. Since Carlos completely renovated La Pastora to be a coffee field and began processing his own production he bought the “Beto” lot back from his brothers. Still today, the plantation is 3 hectares planted with Catuai trees. Great soil and shade from bananas, citrus, mangos, and poros gives this lot an advantage in long term health and cup results. The Pirris River Valley complements the strategy and work of the farmers providing just the right exposure to light and a consistent rejuvenating breeze.

This natural process is prepared by Carlos’ son, Jacob, who does all the processing for their coffee. After Carlos makes the trip to El Llano lot to measure and pick up the extremely ripe cherries that his pickers skillfully select from this lot, he drops them off at their Don Eli micro mill where Jacob immediately puts the cherries to dry in a thin layer on raised beds. 

When processing naturals it’s very important for Jacob to pay special attention to the initial drying phase. So, for the first few days the cherries are moved constantly in order to prevent too much fermentation. After a week, when the cherries look dryer they move them with a rake-like tool about every hour during the day and it takes roughly between 22 days and one month, depending on the weather, for the coffee to dry to its optimal moisture content. It’s very important for Jacob and Carlos after drying is done to let the coffee rest in the warehouse for about one month, especially the Natural process which seems to develop a lot of flavours while being in dried cherry for a month or so.


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