Black Honey. The name conjures exotic sweets, and we were intrigued when one of our favorite importers told us about the farm she had visited in Costa Rica and the wonderful “black honey”coffee she enjoyed there. Of course we wanted to know more!
La Esperanza Familia Monge is the 12 acre farm she visited. It's located in La Esperanza de Tarrazu, part of the province San José, Costa Rica. As the name implies, coffee growing is a family business. The father, Rodolfo Monge, has been growing coffee for over 40 years. When his son, Gustavo, joined the business the younger man became interested in creating traceability for their coffee. He persuaded his father to build a micro-mill on the farm, so the family now controls all aspects of the coffee beans' processing, from cherry selection to the final bagging. He also developed their own method of honey processing for their beans which they call, “Black Honey.”
“Honey processing” is a natural process that uses much less water than the traditional “washed” method where the cherries are soaked for days until the fruit falls off the seeds. Only then are the beans rinsed off and dried. In honey processing, the fruit remains attached to the bean during the drying process. The name “honey” was coined to describe this process because the resulting coffee often retains a very sweet, honey-like flavor.
The Monge family's Black Honey coffee is a great example of this. At a light to medium (City to Full City) roast level, the smooth, silky coffee has a relatively light body with a sweet, herbal aroma and fruit flavors brightened by peach topnotes. Some of us tasted melon, others thought the sweetness was more like fresh figs. A slightly darker (Vienna) roast level brings out more body and even more sweetness. What we like best, though, is the sweet and rich dried fruit and chocolate finish that just gets sweeter and richer the darker you go.
We like this coffee so much we've made it one of our Roaster's Gold coffees and are featuring it as the Exploration Coffee for this month. If you enjoy sweet, rich Central American coffees, give Costa Rica Black Honey a try!
Do you enjoy Costa Rican coffee? If so, we'd love to hear from you. You can share your thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinion with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast
For more information and photos of the Monge family, click here.