Costa Rica Las Lajas Natural
The Las Lajas micromill is located in the Sabanilla de Alajuela region of Costa Rica. Francisca and Oscar Chacon greet you in the driveway with huge smiles and a willingness to show you their stunning farms. Their pride is evident as they show you each immaculate step the coffee goes through. It all starts with their farming practices; Las Lajas is a certified organic farm. These third-generation producers focus on preserving the environment while maintaining the highest quality coffee. Their micromill is immaculately clean, keeping the processing standards they are well known for; the Chacons were some of the first to do high-quality naturals and honeys in Central America. Going into the 2020 harvest, they completed a renovation of their mill, complete with a corkscrew conveyor belt that transports depulped coffee to a custom trailer, which transports it to their drying facility. Strict size and density separation happen at the mills, even the naturals are passed through the mill to separate the less ripe and small size cherries after selective harvesting.
The last step of quality and care takes place on the drying patios and beds. This is where we believe Las Lajas is truly advancing coffee. Oscar told us that he strives to focus on drying the green coffee the same as a roaster focuses on roasting by paying close attention to curves and data. They have become so precise in their processing that they have been able to produce several offerings under various monikers; this particular coffee is their Perla Negra, a natural-process coffee by which whole cherries are turned hourly on raised beds.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly and are pretty much the worst thing ever when not. Natural processing or dry processing refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. After the coffee cherries are picked from the tree they are placed on perforated drying beds to allow airflow all around the cherry. They are dried in the sun until they have 12% moisture content or so and then hulled to remove the dry husk of the fruit. Naturally (get it?), they exhibit fruit-forward characteristics and have a good chance of tasting “fermenty,” which is usually a taboo in Specialty Coffee. However, with an advanced technique in picking and drying, high-quality naturals are being produced, and the cup quality and taste profiles are astoundingly good. We have long promoted alternative processing methods, and naturals are at the top of that list. This Las Lajas Perla Negra is one of the reasons we do.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER – COMING SOON...
ESPRESSO - Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars
Pressure Profile: 0 sec to 4 sec - line pressure, from 4 sec till done - 9 bars
Costa Rica Las Lajas Natural
This Relationship Coffee came about through our friend Sebastian at Sustainable Trading Company, who introduced the Chacons to us. We are looking forward to working together for years to come. We purchased forty 70-kilo bags of this coffee for $5.80/lb FOB. We cupped it at an 87.75, and Royal Coffee New York imported it.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $0.95/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as the final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.