Over three generation the Chacon family has farmed on the slopes of the Poas volcano in Alajuela, Central Valley. The fertile volcanic soils provide the initial base for quality coffee, but during the last decade the Chacon’s have succeeded to add post-harvest processing as a key stone for quality. By slowly integrating fermentatition experiments in their Las Lajas Micro Mill they have succeeded to develop and re-create exiting flavour profiles. The mill was one of the first to aquire the Penagos Aquapulper which forms the basis for their various honey coffees. The aquapulper’s setting determine the amount of fruit mucilage left around the parchment. The sugar inside the mucilage is used to improve the fermentation process resulting in funky and fruity flavors. The pulper also decreases the amount of water used in production. The Chacon’s are pioneers in organic growing and sustainable practices in coffee production. Certified by the “Organic Food Federation”, they shy away from the traditional use of pesticides and focus on the microbial presence during production. The micro mill is the cleanest we ever visited, using a McDonalds type floor to promote hygiene in his production process. After years of successful production Oscar has been able to re-create certain processes, and is currently marketing lots with names, such as: Black Honey, Alma Negra, Black & Yellow Diamond etc. Although changes occur it remains the chef’s secret how he able to standardize these intens fermentation methods. Ask him about the process and he will smile and answer, but never revealing exactly what he does differently.
The Las Lajas visit was part of the agenda during the first origin trip to Costa Rica in 2016. The explanations from Oscar back then opened our eyes to the micro mill culture and Costa Rican specialty. The uniqueness of the profiles became appearent, Las Lajas quickly became part of The Coffee Quest assortment. Each year we include the coffee lots into our Seasonal segment, only on pre-order. Over time the Chacon’s have invested in a better greenhouse, looking more like the larger structures in Indonesia. Temperatures are kept as constant as possible and focussing on smell Oscar is able to determine thickness of the drying parchment. During our last visit to Las Lajas we were amazed by the way he is roasting his own coffees. Using a 1kg Probatino he presented his coffees with 35-40 sec. after first crack, creating a Scandinavian light roast. Amazing to see this style applied in origin!