Flavour Description: Blackberry, Plum, Orange.
Producer: Carlos Montero.
Region / Country: Costa Rica
Process: Natural Process.
Lot Name: El Manzanal.
La Pastora is the premier farm of Don Eli and is highly sought after the world over - it produces the cream of the crop year after year. La Pastora is the name of one of the highest peaks in the Tarrazu growing region and is trademarked by the renowned CoopeTarrazu (which is why it cannot be printed on the jute bag or exported under this name). The mountain boasts extraordinary altitude up to 2200 masl and benefits from a unique microclimate resulting from surrounding peaks and the Pacific Ocean. Actually, a few short years ago farmers weren’t able to grow coffee in this area because it was too cold of an environment. Yet, with the climate changing, brave farmers willing to take a risk, and new varieties - the mountain has been developed into many outstanding coffee farms. Most of the farms found on La Pastora sell their fruit to CoopeTarrazu which combines the coffee to create a solid micro-region community lot, but when one is able to process micro-lots from this alp separately that’s when amazing things happen in the cup.
The farm is split into two sections, Anfiteatro (or Amphitheater) and Manzanal (or Apple Orchard). When you first enter the farm you will notice the amphitheater or crescent shaped section named Anfiteatro. As you continue into the farm you will enter Manzanal where most of the apple trees were before and is actually shaped as an outward curve. The terraces the brothers dug into this farm resulted in large spaces between each coffee tree and we believe that this is a positive influence on the coffee’s quality. The age of the trees are also of help to quality and productivity at a mature 20/25 years old. The amount of sun as well as the filtering clouds in this area lends to a consistent yet gentle source of energy. As one climbs higher up the farm in La Pastora they’ll notice that Carlos had decided to experiment with planting Geisha and other varieties. Carlos, Marianela, and Jacob noticed how well the African lineage varieties grew in this climate and decided to continue planting it. A few years later, these rare varieties along with the original catuai coffees that come from La Pastora and are processed at the Don Eli wet mill have become world renowned!
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.