By Joe Borg and Dan Loughrey
Royal Coffee New York and Costa Rica
Royal Coffee New York has sourced coffee from three main regions in Costa Rica for years; Tarrazu, the Central Valley, and the West Valley. There have been large lots and small lots, from full containers to very small single-producer micro lots. We’ve been very happy to work directly with producers, and consider them not only partners, but friends as well. Overall, this year we've been very happy with our arrivals from Costa Rica. The challenge over the last few years that we've run into has been bridging the gap between larger macro lots and the micros, and finding a quality level that everyone in the supply chain is happy with. The Las Lomas project was started to address that issue.
Behind the Scenes of Las Lomas
To put together such a project, we needed to work closely with a local partner we knew could deliver a traceable, high-scoring “macro” lot. Coop Naranjo was the logical choice. The Coop has been around since the 1960’s, has a large network of producers, and is well-situated to guide the production of superior-quality coffee. In addition, Royal NY has a long history with Coop Naranjo dating back more than eight years. Through close cooperation with Coop Naranjo, we were able to design a program to source traceable, high-end lots of coffee from the West Valley in a way that was inclusive to all members of the coop and paid a price premium for superior harvesting and preparation.
Traceability was key. Given the increasing demand to know where coffee comes from down to the individual producer in many cases, there needed to be constant, consistent conversations between the individual producers and the Coop that would allow for important information to be relayed and assure the best possible deliveries of fully ripe cherries for this project.
To ensure quality, inspections would be done at every point in the production process. Agronomists would be sent to the individual farms to check maturation levels of the coffee trees at each participating farm, guaranteeing that cherries would only be harvested at the peak of ripeness. Further inspections would happen at the mill throughout processing, with feedback given to the producers as needed.
Of course, if you produce great coffee, you should be paid fairly for it. Since the standards (and labor costs) for this coffee are higher than what’s normally expected, a price premium was placed on the Las Lomas lots to encourage the highest possible quality. The project was open to all members of Coop Naranjo with farms between 1,300 and 1,700 meters above sea level, and offers an excellent opportunity for new producers to access new markets. Allowing all members of the Coop to join the project incentivizes the production of excellent coffee now, and into the future.
We've cupped through six different washed offerings from a specific Loma or mountain range that was identified by the coop to produce higher quality coffee in Naranjo. We've selected three specific areas within that mountain range. Each of these lots are named below for their location; Canuela, Lourdes, and San Juanillo. Despite all of these coffees being from one specific mountain range in the West Valley, they each bring something a little different to the final cup.
Please note that these coffees are offered in less than full container loads, and are in short supply. Please be sure to contact your trader if you're interested in carrying any of these coffee or want more information.
Preshipment cupping notes include: