Sunday, September 10, 2006

Santa Elena 'Miel' SHB (Costa Rica)

Part of the purpose of this blog is to give me references for my own roasting, which means recording the inevitable failed roasts. So let's take a look at one ...

About the coffee: The Santa Elena cooperative is located in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. 'SHB' is a designation meaning 'strictly hard bean,' that is usually applied to high-altitude coffees, for example those grown in the Huehuehtenange region of Guatemala. 'Miel' is spanish for 'honey' and refers to the unique processing method used for this coffee. Instead of pulping or fermenting the fruity mucilage layer off the coffee beans, this is left intact and the coffee is sun-dried for a week or so. This processing method is said to leave some of the body and sweetness of dry processed coffees, whilst also bringing out some of the fruitiness and clean cup character imparted by wet processing. It is also quite a unique method for Costa Rica - I seem to recall reading that this is because it is a bit of a PITA in a country where the humidity can, at times, impede the necessary drying. I bought this lot from coffeesnobs - thanks, Andy!

Don't you love the CS stamp?

The roast: I do most of my roasting in the sample roaster at Veneziano. Although it is an air roaster, it doesn't seem to create a very bright profile the way that the domestic Imex, I-roast, et. al. are reputed to. Those of you that have tasted Dave's WBC blend will have noticed that in the cup. I was aiming to stop this roast just after second crack, but let it go for a bit too long while I was busy fooling around - the guys were running an experimental blend through the marzocco ;P

Yes, Pete has more beans than I do.

The tasting notes:

The initial dial-in (27th): pulled various fast shots at grind setting of 11, 10, 9, dose = level, collapse, level. none of the shots were as objectionable as they should have been and the final espresso, although still out of the ballpark at 22 seconds, was actually quite good. very clean, none of the ash that I feared when I saw the oil on the surface. true what they say about cr coffees; very clean, very single-note. fairly sweet. the shots got richer in body and redder in colour as I increased temperature and decrease brew time (duh). temp surf of +10s should be where I start next time. a french press showed some slight ashiness; preferable to roast this one a little bit lighter and rest it longer.

cappuccino (28th); short double. a very rich shot that blends well with the milk, although it tastes slightly burnt - partly the shot, partly the coffee.

Conclusions: Gee, Luca, howsabout not burning it next time? The fact that it went well through milk might make it a great blend component.


Santa Elena Cooperative's Webpage

Discussion in CS's Cupping Room

SM's Costa Rica Page (They aren't offering the Santa Elena - check their archives if you're after notes, but they obviously won't be for the current crop. The link is there for the overviews that Tom has written, but it also reviews another 'miel' coffee.)

A brief mention in June 02's 'Tiny Joy' newsletter from Sweet Maria's

Flavour Characteristics Due to Processing (



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