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's a real character with 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, El Cedral and Finca Hondura. Returning in January this year we met with him again, travelling with Marianela Montero of Tropiq, and were able to visit some of his other plots as well as a portion of his farm left unfarmed, left as a nature reserve. We provided feedback on the coffees we bought from him last year, and witnessed some changes he has made to his processing and drying set up.
Since 2016, the Santa Teresa 2000 micro-mill has been part of the Bandera Azul (Blue Flag) sustainability program, as they aim to become certified carbon neutral this year, a process which has been underway for several years. They use a Penagos eco-pulper to depulp and remove most of the mucilage from their coffees before they are put straight out to dry.
One school of thought argues that forgoing fermentation in tanks, whether wet or dry, will curtail the flavour potential of your coffees. 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 around 2,050m, the cherries are bulked in wooden-slatted silos. They then 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. There is no doubt that he has the nouse to create complex and delicious coffees as this year he produced two of the top 20 scoring lots at Costa Rica’s Cup of Excellence Awards. The patios we saw last year have since been covered, top and sides, with plastic tarps, with plenty of adjustable gaps for ventilation. These, as well as his myriad unshaded and covered raised beds offer many options when it comes to drying his white honey coffees. As it is particularly windy, his tarp structure could easily be blown away or damaged, but the gaps allow for air to flow through, also helping to reduce the humidity around the drying coffee.
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
Clean and structured, this quaffable coffee tastes like brown sugar, dried apple and chocolate chip cookies. Lightly citric acidity adds a lift to a soft, cashew-like creaminess.