La Pira is located in the high altitude Dota valley of the Tarrazu region: an area that's known for producing great coffees. This relatively young estate is only 50 years old and is owned by the founder’s son, Carlos Urena Ceciliano. He has worked on the farm for eighteen years; however, he has worked in coffee all his life.
This amazing coffee first hit our radar back in 2009 thanks to the Cup of Excellence, and we were pleased to be reunited with it only recently after a lot of effort and hard work. A few years ago it was really rather tricky to get, stretching both my pocket and patience, but it was well worth it. Thankfully all years after that it's been a little less stretchy!
After inheriting the family farm, Carlos worked for many years as a certified organic coffee producer, but he realised doing so was just not possible on this farm. Organic coffee is good, but not possible for everyone. The yield was very, very affected. So Carlos looked for alternatives, while still holding the organic principles very close to his heart. For instance, instead of using chemicals to control the weeds, sheep roam freely amongst the coffee plants and eat the weeds (and strangely leave the coffee plants alone). They work as automatic and mobile 'fertilisation units' (nature’s a wonderful thing). This has eliminated the need for herbicides. This is the kind of thinking Carlos has about coffee.
When I last visited La Pira, Carlos told me about how he wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea of how he can improve production, change the way the coffee is harvested and processed, or how systems can be improved upon. I too suffer from this type of sleep deprivation relating to ideas popping into the head, so I can empathise about this.
During one of these late night bursts of inspiration, Carlos thought that using the coldest water he could would be the best way of processing the cherry. During the night the Dota valley gets a really sharp, cold breeze, and it runs through the whole farm. He had noticed the way the water on the mill roof, which sprinkled from processing, was almost frosting up. So he created a sprinkling system and a zinc ramp that the water runs across before hitting the cherries in the fermentation tank.
We've chased this coffee ever since we first had it all those years ago in 2009. Some years it's been super tough to get our hands on due to low yields and some other things, but via quite a bit of pestering the exporter we partner with in Costa Rica I've always managed to get my wonderful and wicked way! You're welcome. ;)
In the cup this is super complex. White sugar mixes with raspberry alongside black tea and a bunch of floral flavours. Finally (told you it was complex!) expect crisp pink apple on the finish.
- Country: Costa Rica
- Region: Tarrazú
- City: Santa María de Dota
- Farm: Finca La Pira
- Farmer: Carlos Ureña Ceciliano
- Farm size: 7 hectares
- Altitude: 1,650 m.a.s.l.
- Variety: Caturra
- Processing system: Red Honey
Cupping notes: White sugar, raspberry, black tea, floral, pink apple.
- Clean cup: (1–8): 7
- Sweetness: (1–8): 6.5
- Acidity: (1–8): 6.5
- Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
- Flavour: (1–8): 7
- Aftertaste: (1–8): 7
- Balance: (1–8): 7
- Overall: (1–8): 8
Correction: (+36): +36
Total: (max. 100): 91
Roasting Information: Medium – through first crack and slow it down but don't let this get close to second crack.
"Quick Look" Guide: White sugar, raspberry, black tea, floral, pink apple