Body:8.5Creamy and Syrupy
Flavor:8.5Nutella, Black Grape
Aftertaste:9.0Vanilla Bean, Red Apple, Sugary Mouthfeel
This coffee from Tim O'Brien of Cafetín de San Martín is truly outstanding. A floral aroma of honeysuckle opens up with a creamy body and notes of nutella. Bright acidity and a marshmallow sweetness mellow into a sugary vanilla finish.
San Martín is a small village situated on a high mountain ridge in the famed Tarrazu coffee-growing region of Costa Rica; it is not located on any official map. Cafetín is a group of 25 small family farms from San Martín. Coffee grown in the village is harvested from steep slopes that range from 5500ft to 6400ft (1700m to 1950m) above sea level, making it some of the highest grown coffee in Costa Rica. Due to these altitudes and their cool mists, the coffee comes into full production two to three years later than in warmer areas, which means less coffee. It also makes for a much later harvest than the average Costa Rican coffee plantation, because the fruit matures more slowly. However, the producers’ patience and dedication to their slow growing trees is the reason this coffee has such an intense flavor and aroma, creating a balanced cup of pure, single source coffee.
In the past, the late harvest in the mountains did cause some problems for the growers. A significant percentage of this specialty coffee would not make it to market because the large cooperatives that control most of Costa Rica’s coffee would stop buying once the majority of the national harvest was over and they had filled their quotas for the season. As a result, growers in San Martín were forced to either harvest immature cherries (which kill an otherwise good cup of coffee) in order to sell their coffee, or let the cherries fall of the tree and rot. Either way, it was a lose-lose situation for San Martín. This was a lot of lost income for the small farmers and a waste of quality beans. The bad roads and lack of transportation also raised the costs of production and forced many small producers to sell to “lobos” (wolves) who would come in with trucks and pay below market prices to people who could not afford to transport their harvest to market. San Martín’s excellent high grown coffee would then be combined with lower quality coffees to improve the latter and gain volume. Thus this special coffee was just lost in the mix.
Having sampled their own coffee for years, the growers in San Martín knew they produced an excellent coffee and became determined to make a better living by introducing their own brand. Together with a coffee loving former Peace Corps volunteer who had previously lived and worked in the village, they decided to build a small processing facility specifically to process beans from San Martín and to work with its harvest schedule. Thus, Cafetín San Martín was born. This special relationship with the producers allows Cafetín to support the local community, but also to be directly involved in quality control from farm to finished bean. Poorer farmers who before could not afford to take their coffee out of San Martín now have a local market that allows them to earn more and they take great pride in putting their name on a quality product. The coffee is processed nearby at the Rio Jorco micro mill.
Cafetín is generating better coffee and better incomes for the producers and their families, who are now more determined to produce the highest quality coffee and put the village of San Martín on the map.