The farm produces 100% Arabica coffee, Caturra and Catuaí varietals, which is grown in the shade of native trees. Organic composts are produced on site using vermiculture (worm composting), and the production process is entirely free of chemicals and agro-toxins.
The harvest starts in December and runs until February. The cherries are selectively handpicked, to ensure that only fully ripe and good quality cherries are collected. These are then processed at the farm’s state-of-the-art micromill, where the cherries are pulped using an ecological ‘dry’ pulper, saving thousands of litres of water in the process. The bean is then processed according to the Red Honey method (see below). All of the left-over coffee pulp is recycled and used as fertiliser on the farm.
This coffee has been processed according to the Red Honey method at the Chacón Solano Family’s Las Lajas micromill, which in addition to processing all of the Las Lajas coffees also processes coffees from the surrounding region. In fact, in 2008, the mill contributed to Francisca Cubillo Salas’ Cup of Excellence win!
‘Honey’ processing is a form of pulped natural process that is common across Costa Rica. Different designations of white, yellow, red and black honey are commonly used among Central and South American farmers and commonly refer to differences in:
- the amount of mucilage left on the bean after pulping;
- how the beans are dried (i.e. direct sunlight or shaded conditions);
- the length of time and conditions under which the beans are dried.
Loosely, the following guidelines are followed when categorising a honey:
- 80-90% of the mucilage is removed
- Beans are dried on raised beds in direct sun
- Beans dry quickly in the intense heat and the parchment becomes white in colour
- 50% of the mucilage is removed
- Beans are dried in conditions of low wind and medium sunlight
- Beans are raked 3 to 4 times a day and dry for up to a week
- 80-90% of the mucilage remains on the bean
- Beans are dried on raised beds in overcast or shaded conditions
- Beans are raked on the first morning and then only once or twice in the afternoon
- Mucilage is left as close to intact as possible
- Beans are dried on raised bed in fully shaded conditions
- Beans are not moved at all on the first day and are then raked once a day; drying time can take up to three weeks.