Finca Cerro Dragón is in the San José Province in Costa Rica. The farm sits under the shadow of the Cerro Caraigres, the Cerro Dragon mountain massif, which is said to look like a sleeping dragon when seen from the Central Valley. It is owned by Ricardo Valverde Fernandéz, who teamed up with four farmer friends to build their own processing plant which now produces approximately 500 bags of SHB beans per year. One of the owners of John Watt and Son visited the farm in 2019 and loved the coffee so much that we ordered some from our importers immediately.
Coffee plantations in this area are very compact, usually around 2.5 hectares. To put this into some perspective, the average coffee farm size in Brazil (the largest coffee producing country in the world) is 7.5 hectares. Only about 75 bags of Honey Cerro Dragón are produced per year which, as far as we are concerned, puts this coffee firmly into “Microlot” territory. We consider a Microlot as a specially cultivated and picked batch of beans from either a small producer or from a dedicated section of a larger plantation. It is kind of like a special edition coffee, or like when a rare wine is made from a grape picked from a defined section of a vineyard in defined year. We are going into coffee nerd territory here!
These Cerro Dragón beans are honey processed (sometimes called semi-washed). This is halfway between the traditional, natural, and the modern, washed, processes. The cherries are picked and then de-pulped in a machine like in the first steps of the washed process. The skin of the cherry is gone, along with most of the gooey bits, but there is a layer of golden, sticky, sugar still present around the beans (this is where the process gets its name). The beans are then laid out in the sun to dry like in the last stage of the natural process. This allows them to soak up some of the sugar and nutrients left from the cherry before the golden layer is removed physically during the milling process. This method makes the Cerro Dragón beans sweeter than the everyday coffee that most of us are used to, but the partial washing means that you can still taste the more complex flavour of the beans underneath the sugary topping.
This coffee has become a firm favourite among our staff and customers alike. We prefer it as a medium roast, we find that a light roast is too sweet and a dark roast on this bean loses the delicate, fruity undertones. The beans roast to a lovely even brown, partly due to the beans being SHB, with very little surface oil and have a sweet and nutty aroma. with very little surface oil and have a sweet and nutty aroma. We recommend it for use as a filter coffee or in a cafetiere rather than as an espresso, as the longer brew times really bring out the complex flavours which helps to tone down the sharp citrus flavours that can come from the processing method.
Farm: Cerro Dragón
Altitude: approx. 1500m
Processing: Honey (semi-washed)
Variety: Caturra – Cataui
Tasting Notes: Medium bodied. Balanced and sweet taste with apricot notes.