Coffee News: from Seed to Cup

Roasting Micro Lot Honey Coffees in El Salvador

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Our past article on Tusell Tostadores recounted the Los Pirineous farm’s story behind their supremely sublime El Salvadorian “Salva D’Or roast. So for this article, we will explore the ‘origins’ of their Costa Rican, La Paila, but will also focus on the ‘hombre behind the roast’ – Nino Tusell.

Whats the story behind the roaster?

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Nino grew up tasting delicious coffee in El Salvador where he experienced first-hand the value of the ‘coffee ritual’. Attracted by the European coffee culture, he started roasting coffee & moved to Barcelona. He’s never looked back…

He still relishes peoples reaction when they try ‘good coffee’ for the first time. Or more specifically, Nino loves the moment when people, who have been drinking  coffee with sugar their whole lives, try his coffee without sugar for the first time.

He pretends to be a laidback Latino but really when it comes to coffee, he’s detail-orientated.  For example,  whenever we have a question about roast profile he’s the first to answer.

Take for instance 2 days ago, I tasted a ‘metallic’ coffee from a UK roaster (not Tusell Tostadores!) and asked Nino to explain. He didn’t give us a one word answer. But detailed how it could be due to multiple factors; too much time in metal roasting cooler, the roaster being brand new, too long a roast (resulting in drum flavour infiltrating the coffee) and before long he was detailing how Diedrich & Probat have made deliberate efforts to avoid such ‘metallic tastes’ in the drums (which can be present in fashionable pre-1960 roasters). Nino then tipped us that for a ‘new roaster’, its advisable to roast  several (slightly darker) batches to impregnate the roaster drum with ‘coffee flavours’ in order to avoid metallic flavours. Clearly Nino knows his beans….

Niño likes to see his beans as soon as they touch ground in Barcelona...

What’s the story behind the cup?

Raised drying beds in Cerro San Luis.

This microlot villa-sarchi & caturra variety coffee is yellow honey processed at the ‘El Beneficio Cerro San Luis‘ mill. What’s honey processing? Well, every mill is different, but essentially it’s an alternative, eco-friendly, minimal-water, method for processing ripe cherries, of which, there are four levels: white, yellow, red and black.

Photo Credit: Seattle Coffee Works

The name ‘yellow’ is derived from the coffees light yellow color caused by exposure to more sunlight (and thus heat) than any other honey processing method. For La Paila, during depulping 10-50% of mucilage (including all of skin & pulp)  is removed from the parchment, prior to drying.  The coffee is then, dried on African beds in low-shade for 30 days! Why African beds? The raised beds avoid fermententation as the coffee never touches the ground. Why 30 days? The extremely long drying period allows the coffee the dry very slowly, which allows the cherries natural sugars to impregnate the bean – resulting in super sweet, fantastically fruity, refreshingly acidic notes.

Photo credit: Seattle Coffee Works

So how does ‘La Paila’ taste?

When it comes to Tusell, I expect excellence, and I wasn’t disappointed. When I opened the bag, a teasing sweet honey-like aroma burst out of the bag. I brewed the coffee using a V60 (28g coffee, 400g of water). At first sip, I decided that this was a ‘summers day’ coffee. Very, very, very zesty & fruity. I could taste intense notes of citrus  and honey-dew melon, underpinned by a refreshing acidity. This has to be one of the most citrusy coffees I have ever drunk – pure ‘citricity‘ and astonishingly, a light sweetness still remained in the medium bodied cup.

Interestingly, I found the more a drunk this coffee, the more it continued to grow on me. That super super fruity-yet-sweet acidity was something special.

A clean coffee from a clean Tusell Tostadores roaster...

Want to learn more about the Costa Rica coffee culture & industry…

Read these interviews with micro-roaster, Paula Chaverri , current CR barista champion, Ariel Bravo or a coffee competition champion, Glen Arce.

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