Cafe Sol Naciente

I met Arturo, an extroverted-intellectual, at the Cafe Expo Tarrazu 2018. The first thing he said to me, “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu,” went completely over my head. I was still rather new in Costa Rica, and getting adjusted to hearing Spanish all the time that the Japanese didn’t even register. It wasn’t until my wife, who knows a little Japanese, replied in Japanese that my mind finally picked up on the language shift.

先日行われたCafé Expo Tarrazuで外向的な知識人に出会った。彼の名はArturo(アルトロ)。彼が突如に発した「Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu」という言葉は、妻が日本語で返事をするまで、スペイン語を聴き取る頭にシフトされた私のそばを完全に素通りしていった。

 

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The son of a rather large coffee farm owner (obviously the farm is large…the father is in great shape), Arturo dedicates his free time to helping around the farm. Whether that means harvesting, processing, or giving tours, it seems like he’s all over the place and is obviously very knowledgable about Cafe Sol Naciente’s operations. When he’s not helping his father produce quality coffee, Arturo spends his time at his 9-5 as an accountant for the local electric company, coaching professional woman’s soccer, teaching himself Japanese, or, supporting his wife at her professional hand-ball games. Fortunately for us, Arturo was able to set aside some time and give a tour of his father’s coffee farm, Finca Sol Naciente.

大きな敷地に作られたコーヒー農園の所有者の息子、(農園は明らかに大規模だ。父は偉大である…。)アルトゥロは使える限りの自分の時間を農園を助けることに充てている。コーヒーの実の収穫、処理、また農園見学のツアーなども行っている。彼の仕事ぶりから、明らかに、この”Café Sol Naciente”のオペレーションに欠かせない存在で、非常に知識深いことがわかる。
彼は普段、地元の電力会社で会計士として勤めていて、他にもプロサッカーチームのコーチングや自身の日本語の勉強をしている。彼の妻は、ハンドボールでコスタリカ代表に選ばれる程で、そのサポートも行っている。 そんな多忙な彼のスケジュールの合間を縫って、私たちは幸い、”Sol Naciente “の農園を見学することができた。

Cafe Sol Naciente literally translated comes out to Coffee Rising Sun. It’s no surprise then that Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, is this farm’s target consumer, and, fortunately enough, their leading importer.

“Café Sol Naciente “は文字通り”Coffee Rising Sun”。 “Café の出ずる場所””Café の生まれ来る場所”の意味を持つ。日本もここから生まれるコーヒーをインポートしている。

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The farm itself sits just outside of the small town of San Marcos, Costa Rica. After a nerve-wracking 20 minute drive through near vertical mountain “roads” (I will never take a FWD sedan again), we arrived at the entrance to the Finca, where a welcoming sign in Spanish, English, and Japanese invited us to the farm.

農場自体は、コスタリカの首都•サンホセより南にあるサンマルコスという、標高の高い小さな町の外れにある。ジェットコースターばりの急角度の道を抜けると、(もう二度とFWDセダンでは、行くまいと、心に決めた。) スペイン語、英語、日本語でのエントランスが私たちを迎えてくれた。

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The day we arrived, even though towards the end of season, Arturo and his family were in the middle of processing some recently harvested coffee fruit.

私たちが見学に行った日、コーヒー作りのシーズンは終盤に差し掛かっていたが、アルトゥロ達は収穫されたコーヒーの果実を処理をしている最中だった。

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The coffee fruit is picked, boxed, and driven to the processing plant, where, depending on the finish, it is stripped of its outer layer, dried, and finally bagged.

コーヒーの果実は、一つずつ手作業で収穫し、処理場に運ぶ。実の外側を取り、乾燥させ、最終的に袋詰めをする。また、作るテイストに寄って作業工程も変わる。

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Arturo Senior, owner of Cafe Sol Naciente (middle) and two workers from Nicaragua
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Picked fruit are placed here, rinsed, and sent down the chute to be processed
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Arturo Sr. performing QA
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As the cylinder spins, the brushes strip the fruit of its outer layer

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Since some fruit sneaks by with its outer layer still intact, as seen above, the selection is sent through again, sometimes three times to ensure uniformity. It is absolutely crucial, when coffee farms are producing a certain wash, or aspiring for a certain taste, that there is uniformity among the beans. One bean picked too early, not processed enough, or dried too little, can completely change the taste of a cup of coffee. Although some coffee defects, such as Shells or Floaters, are nearly impossible to prevent, and even harder to detect, specialty coffee farmers must go above and beyond to prevent and detect what they can, in order to provide a quality cup.

実の外側を取り去る過程では、外側が付いたまま出てきてしまうこともあり、均一にするため、時には3回程繰り返す。上質なコーヒー豆を作る上で、特定の”こだわり”の味を作り出す時、豆に均一性があることは必要不可欠である。たった一つの豆が十分に処理されていない、少し乾燥されていない、だけでコーヒーの味は大きく変化する。[シェル]や[フロー]と呼ばれる、遺伝などからくるコーヒー豆の欠陥を、完全に防ぐことは不可能だが、コーヒー農家は高品質の一杯を提供するために、最大限の力を注いでいる。

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Stripped outer layer of fruit

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Cafe Sol Naciente has a goal of repurposing 100% of their waste. As a result, they dry  the stripped outer skin, and re-purpose it as fertilizer on the farm.

“Café Sol Naciente”では、コーヒー作りでの廃棄物を100%利用するという目標を掲げている。
取り除かれた果実の外皮などは乾燥させ、農場の肥料として再利用される。

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African Drying Beds
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Natural Finish

Natural finish coffee, as seen above, is dried with the outer layer still attached to the coffee. This gives the cup a much frutier taste, compared to other processes.

このように、自然で仕上げられるコーヒーは、大量生産で出来るコーヒーなどに比べて、フルーティな味わいになる。

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Coffee Flower

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“Honey” processed coffee, what Costa Rica is known for in the coffee industry, is dried with its mucilage still intact, as opposed to “washed” or “full wash” coffee where the mucilage is removed. The coffee dried with the mucilage still attached provides a much sweeter cup. To make matters even more complicated, there are varying levels of “honey” finish, with gold honey, red honey, and black honey. As the level of honey intensifies or “darkens,” so does the sweetness of the cup. However, black honey, dried slower using more shade to leave more mucilage intact than gold and red honey, requires much more maintenance and care as the risk of “souring” or undesired fermentation increases drastically.

コーヒーは奥が深い。
豆の乾燥には時間がかかる。豆に付いている粘液を洗い流せば、早く乾燥出来るが、この粘液を残すことで、さらなる甘みを作り出せる。この粘液を業界では”honey”と呼び、そのコーヒーを”honey coffee “という。さらに、この”蜂蜜”には[ゴールド→赤→黒]と、乾燥の色の状態での分類があり、乾燥させるほど、甘くなる。しかし、黒くさせるには、日陰干しにし、多くのメンテナンスが必要になるほか、「酸味」や発酵してしまうリスクが高くなるのだ。

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Coffee ready to be shipped
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This is how I imagine Okinawa roasting spaces look like
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Eucalyptus tree providing natural shade

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Cafe Sol Naciente experiments with different fruit planted next to coffee plants. The fruit, in this case, banana, mango, or lemon trees provide natural shade for the coffee. Arturo Sr., also wants to see if the byproducts of the fruit trees will have any effect on the taste of the coffee. Very excited to try the results.

農園内のコーヒーの木の隣にはバナナやマンゴー、レモンの木が植えられていた。これらは、コーヒーを自然の色合いにしてくれる。また、これらの植物がコーヒーのフレーバーにどのような影響を与えるのか、彼らが実験していて結果を楽しみにしているところだ。

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Banana Tree
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Eucalyptus Tree

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Chris performing some QA

As the tour winded down, Chris, Arturo’s nephew who accompanied us on the tour, was our saving grace as he asked all the questions I hadn’t even thought of. My personal favorite, “Why does coffee taste so good?” has stayed with me to this day. Some people say it’s the phenolic lipids in the coffee, but I’m more interested in what Chris has to say on the matter the next time we visit.

見学ツアーに同行してくれた、アルトゥロの甥っこ、クリス君。暑い中私たちについてきて、自分のおやつまでくれた。将来の担い手になるだろう。彼が最後に言ってくれた「Sayonara 」を忘れない。

We couldn’t be more thankful for the tour. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll be able to taste the results of the “fruit tree” experimentations or, equally as enticing, see my first professional handball game. Until then, I wish Cafe Sol Naciente and family the best of luck.

私はこのツアーに心から感謝している。上手くいけば”フルーツツリー”の実験結果を味わえるかもしれない。または最強プロハンドボールの試合を観るきっかけも。Café Sol Naciente の幸せを願っている。

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Café Döga Tour

This weekend I had the honor of touring Biocafe Oro Tarrazu, located just an hour and half south of San Jose. Being March, most of the coffee had already been picked, processed, dried, and stored, however, we were still able to see all of the equipment and process of how everything functioned.

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My sister’s car that is capable of driving up a 70 degree incline

The harvest season in Costa Rica is generally from December to March. Workers arrive from Nicaragua and Panama to pick the fruit, which is then sent to the processing plant via truck.

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Drying fields for sun-dried coffee

Upon arrival at the plant, the coffee is sorted, stripped of its outer layers (depending on the wash [we’ll get into that in a following post]), and dried. Cafe Doga uses mostly water, gravity, and sun to achieve these goals with a “home-made” engineered system.

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Altitude – 1475m

The fruit is placed into these storage tanks which sorts and temporarily holds the beans until they are ready to be sent, via water, to the “de-pulper.”

 

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Top pipe is return water line, bottom pipe is coffee feed line

After the fruit is transferred, it is stripped of its outer layer (unless it is a natural process which we will get into later) and sorted based on quality. Sitting in water, the beans that float are not yet ripe and are pushed down the line, to be collected in another section and used “Para la casa” instead of being sold or exported.

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The heavier, better quality beans, fall through the small slits in a rotating drum and are collected at the bottom on a wheel barrel. The water that brought the fruit to this stage is then recycled back to the beginning to be reused on the next batch.

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The coffee is then taken to be dried on African Beds or concrete flooring. African beds are an elevated lining that provides a porous underside, which allows air to flow upwards into the beans, helping prevent moulding and fermentation. On concrete flooring, the beans are also dried by the heat of the ground, however, since there is no airflow as found in African Bedding, the beans must be raked many times a day. Both concrete and African beds take just over 10 days to fully cool the beans.

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Interestingly enough, upon arrival to BioCafe Oro Tarrazu, coffee beans usually have a moisture level of about 50%. By the time they are bagged and ready to be shipped, they are sitting at 10.5%. Too much moisture and the risk of mould increases, as does the amount of money the buyer pays for each bean. Too little moisture, the coffee will lose most of its flavor and the farmer will earn less per bean.

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From fruit to green bean

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Once coffee reaches the desired level of moisture, it is stripped of any leftover casing and bagged, ready to be sold. They must be stored with extreme caution, as extra moisture in the bag could spoil the entire shipment.

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Although Cafe Doga is a small, family owned coffee estate, they do provide quality coffee that is carefully processed. Compared to the other estates in the area they are relatively new, but have already made a name for themselves in Costa Rica coffee.

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Leftover dominos set used by workers from Nicaragua and Panama

Also, Cafe Doga has started a quite intriguing Ponche de Cafe line. They offer a liquor filled and alcohol free version of the cold milk coffee beverage. I was pretty exhausted from the tour that I didn’t realize which one I had, but I do remember that it tasted amazing.

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Poncha de Cafe

To the family of Cafe Doga and Biocafe Oro Tarrazu, specifically Mrs. Vargas and Ms. Madrigal, I can’t thank you guys enough for your warm hospitality and an opportunity to see a part of coffee that not many people get to experience. Look forward to running into you guys at the next coffee event!

If you’re interested in contacting Cafe Doga for more information or would like to purchase some coffee, check out their Facebook. Ask them how they came up with the name Doga! Interesting history behind it.