We first met Roger Ureña Hidalgo, known as Perico (Parrot) to his friends due to him continually talking, at a producers’ party hosted by Nordic Approach at Beneficio Don Eli. Working with coffee in Tarrazú, Costa Rica since he was 15 years old, he has an infectious personality and is producing some fantastic coffees. After a quick visit to Roger’s farms and processing mill, Santa Teresa 2000, we bought two lots in 2017, El Cedral and Finca Hondura. Returning last January, we met again and were able to visit some of his other plots as well as the portion of his farm he leaves unfarmed, left to its own devices as a nature reserve. Just underneath his beneficio is the Viejita plot, planted out with healthy Red Catuaí coffee trees, which produce some excellent fruit.
Since 2016, the Santa Teresa 2000 micro-mill has been part of the Bandera Azul (Blue Flag) sustainability program. Last year he became certified carbon neutral, a process which has been underway for several years. Roger uses a Penagos eco-pulper to depulp and remove most of the mucilage from his coffees, before putting them straight out to dry.
One school of thought argues that forgoing fermentation once pulped, whether wet or dry, will curtail the flavour potential of coffee. However, there is an additional stage in Roger’s processing that should be noted. When the harvested cherries are delivered to the mill, which is situated at the very crest of the mountain in Dota, Tarrazú at around 2,050m, the cherries are bulked in wooden-slatted silos. They sit there overnight before being depulped, 14-18 hours later, the following morning. We have come across this stage being described, even marketed, by producers as a ‘Reposado’ process, which can involve holding a parcel of fruit for up to 48 hours to intentionally alter the cup profile through a kind of maceration. The winds and high altitude at Santa Teresa 2000 make for a cool and well-ventilated holding tank, so there is a very low risk of funky off notes developing during this stage. Roger believes this resting of the cherries before processing goes some way to increase the complexity of his coffees and there is no doubt he has the nouse to create complex and delicious coffees as last year he produced two of the top 20 scoring lots at Costa Rica’s Cup of Excellence Awards.
We witnessed something else at Santa Teresa 2000, illustrative of Roger’s attention to detail as well as care and respect for the area’s coffee culture. He was working with his son José at the mill, which is impeccably clean and very well organised, and he stooped down to pick up a single coffee bean on the path which had fallen from one of his raised beds. If you’ve visited anywhere that dries and processes coffee, you’ll know how common it is to see spillage on the floor, and this willingness to notice, stop and pick up a single bean and slip it into his pocket struck us as the actions of a very proud and discerning coffee producer.
Santa María de Dota, Tarrazú, Costa Rica
Comforting tones of hazelnut, fig & cocoa are offset by sugary white grape & hints of cranberry. The finish reminds us of Garibaldi biscuits.