CARLOS MONTERO, Tematica Anoxic Natural
We’re excited to welcome back our favourite variety from Carlos Montero, Typica! This exceptional coffee is really slowly dried and the impeccable processing from the team at Don Eli and has produced a really fruity cup profile. We taste loads of tropical fruit like pineapple with mandarin notes and a sweetness like milk chocolate.
PREPARATION: Natural, Anoxic Fermentation
LOCATION: Don Eli Micro Mill, Tematica, El Llano de La Piedra, San Marcos, Tarrazú
ALTITUDE: 1,800 - 2,000 masl
PRICE PAID: £15.86/kg
The Montero Family have been visionaries, pioneers, and game changers in the Micro Mill Revolution in Tarrazú, Costa Rica. Carlos Montero has been growing coffee his whole life and comes from a long line of farmers. He had the vision of processing their own coffee fruit and working more directly with consumers, constructing their micro mill Don Eli, named after his father, in 2014. Carlos was also instrumental in encouraging many other coffee growers in the Tarrazú region to do the same and begin creating relationships with roasters. Jacob has taken charge of the wet mill over the years and really honed his passion for processing their fruit. This year, they added a humble dry mill station to prepare their parchment for export. Always adding onto their skillset, improving quality, and strengthening their direct relationships.
Tematica means subjects or topics in Spanish. It was Carlos’ vision to have a place where he could do and share with others various disciplines, with the focus on environment, coffee, sustainable agriculture, and exchange of ideas. The land just on the other side of the Pirris River from his home became available in the early 2010’s and he was finally able to take out a loan to purchase it and fulfil this dream. After years of hard work, sacrifice, and development the farm now houses the wet mill Don Eli, a structure for visitors to stay and host events, as well as an “organic” farm for research and demonstration. The area of Tematica where coffee is grown in an organic or biodynamic style is actually referred to as the Chamaco Lot. This is because Carlos bought the land from a man named Chamaco who had not disturbed the land since he purchased it in the 70s.
Unlike many farms in the area, the forest which makes the Chamaco Lot was not destroyed in order to make way for coffee plantations. Rather, the land has coffee planted among the indigenous growth that has always resided there. Many of the coffee trees found in this farm were planted nearly 100 years ago. Back then, the Typica variety, or Cafe Arabigo as it’s often referred to, was popular to plant. Until today you can see those same tall, strong, and low yielding plants growing under the canopy of the natural forest. As time went on, Carlos added plants where he could within the woods, experimenting with a few other varieties like Catuai, Mundo Novo, Yellow Bourbon, Ethiopian Lineages, and others.
These efforts were always to see how each variety would behave in this shaded, crowded, and organically managed plantation. Carlos has been dedicated to not using any synthetic products on this farm, which is almost unheard of in a productive field. The only materials added or used in this farm are made on the property from biproducts also coming from the same land. While it is not the most productive farm Carlos has, it definitely attracts a lot of intrigue and results in a quality in which one can taste the sustainable nature. This is a natural coffee farm that the entire family is very proud of, has taught and inspired many coffee lovers, and creates some beautiful coffees to drink.
The Typica here are the oldest coffee trees for Don Eli, planted by generations of producers before Carlos. This was the most common variety of coffee you could find in Costa Rica back in the early 1900s and truly derived from the plants of Eastern Africa. It was simply known as “Arabigo” at the time but was really one of the mothers of coffee and the Arabica species. When Carlos took possession of this farm, he decided to leave these trees as they were, unlike most other farmers who would have pulled those trees out and replaced them with the more productive and disease resistant Catuai.
Jacob has been perfecting his fermentation skills for his specific conditions like the environment around the wet mill and the fruit that is received. Over the past couple of years, he and Carlos have separated a fermentation area at the wet will and made better raised beds for optimal drying. After the fruit is received and inspected it’s given a quick rinse and then sealed inside GrainPro bags. The coffee is left in this condition for 5 days as Jacob keeps an eye on it and gives the bags a turn every so often. After the fermentation period, the coffee is dried very slowly with the fruit intact. The cherries are kept in a medium-thick layer under shade to prolong the drying time and Jacob believes this is the key for a clean, fruity, and long lasting process. This coffee takes over a month in total to process and dry. This was the first year that Don Eli had their own little dry mill to prepare their own coffees. Right on sight, they peel the parchment, sort by screen size and density, and later sort for defects by hand or using an electronic colour sorter in another warehouse.