Sascha Spittel, founder of Tres Cabezas Berlin, talks about cascara, coffees and cultivation methods in Costa Rica.
Sascha, you were in Costa Rica at the end of 2015. What can we expect from the coffees of this growing region in the near future?
As far as the coffees we will be able to offer in 2016 are concerned, I can first say that in addition to the classic Costa Rican coffees, i.e. the straight and washed coffees, there will also be honey processed coffees and naturals, which are particularly sweet and fruity.
Can you already say something about the fincas and farmers from which the coffees will come?
This year, we will again source coffee from Hacienda Sonora, who have been our business partners and friends from the very beginning. Finca Las Lajas of the Chacin family and Don Giovanni of Finca Barranquilla also have very, very good coffee beans for us. Of course, we will also introduce new producers and their coffees, but should I reveal that now?
You don't need to.
I see more and more Naturals on your shelves. Also from Costa Rica. Right now it's the Typica variety, the Elle Neuve variety and Perla Negra. Is the trend in Costa Rica now moving away from washed coffees towards natural processing?
The last Cup of Excellence already clearly showed that there is a trend. The variety of processing methods was far greater than in previous years. And in 2016, it will be even easier for small producers to get a licence as coffee processors in Costa Rica.
What has changed?
The coffee beans that are processed in the Natural process are harvested from the coffee plant and then placed in the sun to dry. During this process, the pulp surrounding the coffee bean is loosened. It dries up and falls off. For the complete Natural process, a coffee producer does not need a washing station, a pulper or a waste water system. None of this is necessary for Natural processed coffees. A new regulation now stipulates that coffee farmers who produce naturals do not have to comply with the regulations that are necessary for a conventional washing station. This means that smaller farms in particular can now produce and offer green coffee independently and also participate in this part of the value chain. As a result, it is foreseeable that coffees from Costa Rica will also undergo a change in taste in the coming years. For a very long time, coffee beans from Costa Rica were the straight, clear and washed coffees in the coffee world. But we can now clearly see that an opening is taking place there and that other and innovative cultivation methods can also gain a foothold. And of course for us, who buy coffee locally from the small producers, new taste directions are also opening up. That makes me happy, of course.
Will there be new Cascara from Costa Rica?
Also this year we will get Cascara from Hacienda Sonora. But this time it will not be a blend of different varieties, but several Cascara teas from individual varieties. There will be one Cascara tea each from the Villalobos, Villa Sarchi and Venezia varieties. The Cascara tea from Finca Las Lajas will also be on our shelves. Whether this will be a blend or a tea from only one variety is still unclear at the moment.
A new addition is the Cascara from Finca Helsar de Zacero, which Ricardo Peres Barrantes and Rodrigez Villalobos developed in a project together with the University of San José. The cascara tea is produced differently than is usually the case. Cascara actually consists of the dried pulp of the coffee cherry, which comes from natural processed coffee. But the Cascara tea from Ricardo and Rodrigez is different. First, the coffee beans and their pulp are washed in large basins and then pulped. Afterwards, the freshly washed husks are dried by means of a dehydration process.
What does that mean?
This means that the moisture is removed from the coffee husks, but very gently. During this dehydration process, the temperature is always below 42°C, so that the vitamins and ingredients present are not destroyed. And they are so important in cascara, because it has a high concentration of vitamin B2 and vitamin E.
Many thanks for taking time for us!
Explore our Costa Rican Coffees here.