Followers of alternative processing methods will surely admire this Costa Rican. Sourced from a family farm located in La Esperanza de Tarrazu, the black honey-processed coffee produced by the Monge family is floral and full-bodied with pronounced notes ranging from red grape and raisin to chocolate and molasses.
As this coffee's name implies, the Monge family carefully supervises state-of-the-art cultivation practices that enhance coffee quality. The father and son duo of Rodolfo, a coffee grower for over 40 years, and his son Gustavo established a micro-mill on their 12-hectare farm several years ago to create traceability for their coffee. As a result, the family now controls all aspects of cherry selection, depulping and drying. Luckily for us, they apply the honey processing method to their coffee beans as a means to balance environmental impact with expressive cup profiles.
"Honey processing" is a natural process that reduces water consumption by eliminating the need to wash mucilage from the coffee bean. Instead, the fruit remains attached to the bean during the drying process and imbues the coffee with a very sweet, honey-like flavor. Essentially, fully ripe Catuai and Caturra varietal cherries are harvested and partially pulped, then taken to dry on raised beds. Color designations tend to indicate the amount of fruit that remains: white honeys have nearly none at all, while red honeys are the "classic" style. Black honeys, on the other hand, are allowed to dry with as much mucilage as possible. The beans ultimately take on a slightly reddish hue and yield a great deal of bold, fruity flavors.
The Monge farm may be small compared to more expansive land holdings planted in coffee, yet quality represents the deciding factor here. The family employs a diverse rotation of fruit species intercropped among the coffee shrubs, a highly effective cultivation technique. They enjoy deep roots in the community and routinely give back to workers and local citizens through collaborations with charity organizations. As one would expect, the Monge family regularly competes in the Costa Rica Cup of Excellence with impressive results.
Rodolfo and Gustavo Monge & Family
Variety: Catuai, Caturra
Region: La Esperanza de Tarrazu, San Jose, Costa Rica
Altitude: 1500 - 1700 meters
Soil: Volcanic loam
Process: "Black Honey" Process. Pulped and dried in the sun on drying tables.