Jack Kelly (Owner) and Dismas Smith (Head Roaster) share experiences from visiting coffee farms in Costa Rica. They offer their journal daily so we can share the stories of the coffees you find at Caffe Ladro.
Costa Rica 2016
For sure, this was not our most efficient day of travel! We arrived in Costa Rica about 12:00 noon, which doesn’t sound too bad until you factor in our 4 am start time. Ugh! After clearing customs, we get picked up and go straight to the cupping lab at Exclusive Coffees. We jump right in, and cup two big tables of 45 cups each. It took us three hours and by 5 pm we’re hotel bound and exhausted. After sending emails and calling home, we enjoyed dinner with a large posse of specialty coffees’ elite companies. Two groups from Australia made the night pretty rowdy!
Costa Rica 2016
We ate a nice breakfast and visited the Exclusive lab for coffee and discussion of our itinerary. We decide visit our friends in the West Valley first. Ricardo Perez of Helsar is our first stop. Sitting on a beautiful farm, Santa Lucia–Helsar de Zarcero micro mill sets the standard for quality in Costa Rica. You may remember Ricardo, he provided the cascara for our friends at Counterbalance Brewery to make the most amazing beer for last year’s SCAA conference. This year their cascara project is full tilt. Because the University of Costa Rica is now a partner, we are told no pictures! Still, they are producing the nicest cascara I have tasted, and I’m bringing some back for us all to enjoy.
While we are walking the mill, I reach in to a batch of yellow honey coffee drying on the patio. I can’t believe it, it has the perfect scent of ripe mango! I’ve never experienced it before. I quickly say, “what is this?” I’m told it is the very coffee that produced the cascara. I proclaim, “I want it; how much do you have?” The opportunity to offer a Santa Lucia coffee and cascara pairing this summer is exciting! After many thank yous, and a few hugs we say goodbye.
Then we are on to Herbazu where Antonio Barrantes won the 2015 Superbowl of coffee with his SL-28. First place at the Cup of Excellence is coveted and valuable accolade for years to come. Antonio is humble and I’m so proud of his achievements. I thoroughly enjoy telling him how great he is! We walk through his farm as the sun sets, and we witness what specialty coffee can be–unbelievable health and growth! We see five or six boutique varietals from Geisha, Sl-28, Villalobos to higher producing Villasarchi. These varietals will provide amazing range in flavor, and will keep Barrantes on every great roasters list!
Such a great day that we spend the long ride back reveling in what we’ve seen, tasted and smelled in Costa Rica 2016. We enjoy a quick late bite at the hotel and bed.