Diego (second from the left), Don Alfonso's son and cherry pickers
Caturra- Washed and Natural

This coffee is from the one of Costa Rica’s most historic farms- Aquiares Estate, located in the Turrialba region of Costa Rica on the fertile slopes of the Turrialba Volcano.

The name of the coffee, Don Alfonso, represents the best of the harvest and is associated with Don Alfonso Robelo, patriarch of one of the owning families of the estate.

Situated between the Aquiares and Turrialba Rivers, “Aquiares” means “land between rivers” in Costa Rica’s Huetar indigenous language. The area where Aquiares estate is located used to be the centre for this pre-Columbian civilization, and occasionally old artefacts are still found among the coffee trees.

A look at the specs:

Farm: Aquiares Estate.

Variety: Caturra.

Processing: One is Washed and the other is Natural.

Altitude: 800- 1400 masl.                            

Owner: The Robelo Family.

Town / City: Aquiares.

Region: Turrialba.

Don Alfonso Robelo and him son Diego
Don Alfonso and son, Diego
The Varietal

Caturra- a dwarf bourbon, is the main varietal grown on the farm, but the perpetual climate change issue and its accompanying pest and disease onslaught are forcing the folks at Aquiares to explore new varieties that are more resilient. Diego, Don Alfonso Robelo’s son, is leading the way with new variety experimentation.  Diego has setup collaborations with World Coffee Research (WCR) and the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), including an experimental garden for Central American Coffee varieties for WCR. It’s people like Diego that are ensuring a future for coffee and everybody involved.

A quick description of the effect of wet and natural processing.

The washed coffees gets picked, pulped, fermented, washed, then dried. Fermentation allows for the breakdown of the sticky mucilage leftover on the coffee parchment after depulping- through the activity of various bacteria and yeast strains. Wet processed coffees seem to have a broader array of acids, and because of this are more complex. Wet processing will also highlight genetic flavour and quality traits of the variety being used.

Naturals, as they are affectionately called, are picked and then dried in the sun, just like that. In this style of processing- as the cherries are drying in the sun, there is more interaction occurring between the mesocarp( fruit flesh) and the seed. The cup character becomes fragrant, fruity and juicy or winey. It must be noted that the acidity profile with this style of processing seems to be less diverse than wet-processed coffees- more monotone in general, but delicious nonetheless.

Aquiares variety experimentation
Aquiares variety experimentation

Our intention here, was to explore one variety from the same farm processed in two different ways. I would highly recommend to try these coffees side by side.

In the cup, expect:

Washed- Caramelized sugar, lychee and cinnamon notes, with an approachable and variable tropical fruit like acidity.

Natural- Marshmallow, Black Grape and blackberry with a juicy mouthfeel.

Enjoy the brews.