Costa Rica, Flavor Notes, Genuine Origin, green coffee beans, specialty coffee

Hot Springs for Coffee?

August 10, 2018
Volcanic activity in Costa Rica

Imagine taking a nice, soothing bath at a hot spring, surrounded by nature and listening to the birds sing and relaxing. Just the thought makes you feel more tranquil, right? What if we told you that our Tarruzú Hot Springs coffee goes through a similar process? Hot Springs is not just a fancy name, it’s an experimental processing method developed in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is part of the Central American Volcanic Arc and has several active volcanoes, so it is no surprise that Costa Rica is the leading country in geothermal energy. But what does any of this have to do with coffee processing?

Transporting hot springs mineral water

Geothermal energy is responsible for the creation of hot springs, which generally don’t make you think of coffee. While hot spring water is rich in minerals, it usually isn’t recommended for drinking. In a small town named Orosi, just 35 Km south of San Jose there is a hot spring with potable water. This is where the idea of coffee and hot spring water together came together for an innovative new processing method. The first hurdle: Beneficio San Diego, where the coffee would be processed, is 2 hours away. Initially, San Diego was concerned that the water would cool on its journey, but it’s actually so hot, on arrival the mill team needs to wait for the water to cool enough to start the process.

The coffee selected to undergo this process comes from Tarrazú region, almost two hours away from the mill as well. Only the best cherries were selected for this lot; hand-picked at its peak ripeness. The varieties are caturra and catuaí, cultivated at an altitude between 1200-1750 masl.

Now that we have got the coffee and the water, what happens next? After the coffee is depulped, it’s placed in fermentation tanks with the hot springs water, warm enough to effectively remove the mucilage without cooking the coffee. During the fermentation, the mineral-rich water permeates the parchment and the bean absorbs these nutrients which lead to distinctive flavor notes, obvious when cupped against the same coffee with a traditional washed process. Once de-mucilaged, the coffee is sun dried on patios or mechanically if required.

The result

The flavor profile is emblematic of the Tarrazú region at first sip: cocoa and nutty, with a stone fruit acidity. The Hot Springs process imbues the coffee with unique spicy notes like pepper and black currant. It also contributes additional brightness and clarity of flavor. Our Tarrazú Hot Springs coffee has a mild acidity with a light body that makes it perfect for a relaxing afternoon cup of coffee.

The San Diego mill has an interesting story of its own– It was established back in 1888 and is one the oldest operating wet mills in Costa Rica. Despite having been around for more than a century, San Diego is one the most technologically equipped wet mills in the country. It is the second biggest mill in the Tarrazú region and maintains its position as a top mill through innovation, like creating the Hot Springs process. Beneficio San Diego strives for ever increasing efficiency and quality standards, while working with producers to ensure sustainable production for years to come.

Our Tarrazú Hot Springs coffee  is unique for many reasons–its flavor, the experimental process that leads to distinctive spicy notes (unique for a coffee from Tarrazú) and of course, being processed at one of the oldest mills in the country, with fresh, high-end technology. It is the culmination of careful tending by producers and a mill committed to pushing our industry forward through innovation. Sample our Tarrazú Hot Springs today—the proof is in the cup!

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