Brian Beyke

Forty Ninth Parallel - Costa Rica San Martin

Brian Beyke
Forty Ninth Parallel - Costa Rica San Martin

I haven’t had much experience with Costa Rica.  I’ve said that in recent write-ups as I’ve been able to try a few more lately, but I was excited to dig into some new crop Costa Rican offerings.  I have several cohorts that rave wondrous things about the region, a region that previously in my coffee drinking I wasn’t as exposed to.  I started to surf the web and landed on the home page of famed Canadian roaster 49th Parallel.  I was sold upon reading the descriptors “Pineapple jam sweetness, marshmallow texture.” I’d been wanting to try 49th for awhile, so I decided to pull the trigger.  Let’s dig into Costa Rica San Martin.

In the cool misty mountains neighbouring the Dota valley in famed Tarrazu, the San Martín community mainly farms coffee of the Caturra cultivar. Up until the last 20 years or so, residents had to reach their town by horseback. Our San Martín lot consists of 25 smallholder families, each delivering cherry to a central mill, where ripe coffee fruit is milled, more specifically, aquapulped with a Colombian PANAGOS machine, a good machine to use when fresh clean water is scarce. Then, the parchment is left overnight with the fruit and pulp removed, and sundried on raised african beds for 10 days or so prior to being delivered to the dry mill at Rio Jorco.

Due to a perfect storm of a particular micro climate and altitude, the process of ripening takes quite a bit of time. So much time in fact, that prior to this wet mill project, farmers from this area were forced by neighbouring mills to either deliver underripe cherry to fulfill the schedules of the lower grown farms, or sell to the local market. The fact that this mill exists means these families can achieve much higher prices paid to them, and can fulfill the very high potential to produce what we have tasted as the sweetest specialty coffee coming out of this region.


Roaster: Forty Ninth Parallel

Region: San Martín de León Cortés, Tarrazu

Farm: 25 Smallholder farms

Process: Aquapulped and Sun Dried

Varietal: Caturra

Elevation: 1,700 -1,950m

Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:25 total time | 201 degrees | 1.29 TDS | 19.10% Ext.

 Brewing aroma of chocolate and spice, with the cup giving up aromas of vanilla and cherry.

The cup starts sweet and syrupy, but comfortably so.  Vanilla cream notes are fronted, with nods to dried fruits and honey, maybe a bit of caramel. The acidity isn’t too intense, think apple or cherry, but it is refreshing given the body of the cup.  It sits a bit more on the medium side, smooth in body and carrying toasted nuts into the finish.

Cooling, the sweetness condense a bit and notes of apple, pomegranate, blackberry, pear, and black cherry begin to emerge.  It’s a relatively clear cup, but still carries a bit of a smoky finish.  As it opens, floral notes seem to flutter around, but they aren’t the most highlighted element.  

It’s an incredibly balanced cup, with the sweetness saturating without becoming overly sweet, the nuttiness staying prevalent but losing it’s smoky front, and the acidity becoming a bit more brisk with notes of orange sticking around into the long finish.  In the later stages pineapple seems to be showcased clearly, which adds to the natural sweetness.  Praline and caramel seem to cover the tongue in the later moments, leaving a a smooth and sweet finish.

A refined and solid offering.


Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 200 degrees | 1.27 TDS | 19.10% Ext.

The initial sips carry a clean juiciness on the top end, moving into a dense berry sweetness and then transitioning into a more savory, nutty finish.  The aftertaste gives more nods to dried fruits like raisin and date and even tropical fruit sweetness.

As it begins to open you notice just how clean this coffee is, and you get more caramel and toffee sweetness starting to emerge in it’s smooth body.  It seems to have qualities of raspberry, blackberry, apple, pear, and black cherry, with a bright but not very intense apple meets tangerine acidity.

Once the cup cools (110) you find a more delicate cup, more a sugary fruits in to the cup like dried pineapple, apricot, and grape, with some moments reminiscent of flan.  It’s balanced, still very clean, and really enjoyable in the cooler moments with drips of caramel, vanilla, and a lingering sweetness with pops of floral.


Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 199 degrees | 1.32 TDS | 19.75% Ext. (Immersion mode)

 Brewing aroma of brown sugar, spice, and orange. 

Nose sweet bowl of cherries and floral.  

The initial sips are comfortably rich with a deep flavor that reminds me a bit of french toast.  It remains dense for the first few minutes, and is a bit syrupy with notes like brown sugar and molasses in an otherwise creamy body with a nutty finish.

Diving further it begins to grow more sweetness, both dried fruits and also in a more caramel smooth body, cleaning up along the way.  There is a nice brightness on the front, balanced and lifting from the more dense beginning.

The aromas in the cup also open to caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar.

Cherry, blackberry, apple, currant, date, and raisin grow in the cup, a bit more sugary in sweetness with vanilla and a little maple syrup too, still ending with a nutty finish.


Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 228g (w) | 2:05 total time | 198 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 20.70% Ext. (preferred method)

Oh yea- this is the cup I’ve been missing.

Right off the bat has a buttery and syrupy body with dense apricot and pineapple sweetness.  It carries a creamy and clean finish with a nice sweet lemon leaning toward orange acidity and linger notes of spice and tea-leaves. 

Opening up is like and onslaught of sweetness, the likes of which we didn’t find in the previous makes.  Sugary sweet notes of peach, apricot, cherry, mango and pineapple stir around with vanilla

cream and palpable drips of caramel down the sides of my tongue.  The finish carries some prickly notes of blackberry along with grapes dipped in a marshmallow cream fruit dip, tea spice and floral notes too detected again in the lingering sweetness.  Still clean, sweet, and wonderfully presented.

This was a great cup.


It is a bit sad it took me until the end of the bag to find “the cup,” but I’m glad I found it at all.  The other makes weren’t bad by any means, but they didn’t offer up everything they could have, and were a little less than what I was hoping for.  This was a really good Costa Rica, and if I had every cup turn out like the V60 it would have been an amazing Costa Rica.  It was approachable, sweet and flavorful, and definitely held up to the presentation of Costa Rica that I had gone into buying this bag for, I just wished I could have had those repeatable, sweet, syrupy, and clean cups each time.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.