Brian Beyke

Terminus Coffee - Costa Rica Las Lajas

Brian Beyke

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If you are reading this, chances are you have seen a coffee reviewed by David and Mae Clark, the organically driven duo also known as The Puristas.  We are here today, honored and humbled, to introduce you to their newest roasting endeavor: Terminus Coffee.  In the same way that Purista is about the enjoyment of pure, unadulterated coffee, Terminus focuses on sharing coffee in its purest forms, as well as educating people about it in the same way that they gained their own knowledge with Purista.  As a micro-roaster, their is an organic fluidity that you see that carries through from Purista to Terminus:

“ We’ve done everything from the ground up, on our own dime, and it feels really organic in the way we’ve done it thus far…We would also like people to know that we strive to keep Terminus as low-impact as possible on our environment.  We are working on going more in-depth on that on the web site for everyone to see, in the form of a social impact report inspired by Bobby Enslow of Indaba.”

While Terminus has hopes to one day source all their offerings through direct-trade, currently they are sourcing through Cafe Imports who they believe to be pretty transparent and source amazing coffees by insuring the farmer’s good prices and working with them to get the best quality out of their crops.

This first offering we will be diving into is an excellent example of that whether you know it or not, but you can read about that shortly.  We in the coffee blogosphere and coffee community network online are so excited about these two, their future, and your ability to experience it.  We’ll learn more about Terminus in coming write-ups, but for now let’s share their first offering, Costa Rica Las Lajas.

Cafe Imports bought its first Costa Rica microlot container at the end of the 2006/2007 harvest; at that time the microlot offerings were basically non-existent.  In six years the Costa Rica microlot market has grown to be one of the most popular origins that deliver very consistent quality year-after-year.  

The Costa’s Cafe Imports is sourcing directly from micro-mills and producers were paid at the Farm Gate level.  We managed local transportation, dry-milling, consolidation, and exportation of the coffees.  This experience is extremely valuable as it gives us a better understanding of what it takes to get coffee from cherry to export quality in GrainPro and Yute with its corresponding marks.

Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of Las Lajas Micromill are third generation coffee producers in their family.  They inherited their farms from their grandparents and are known for being one of the first to process high-quality Honeys and Naturals in Central America and for participating in the Cup of Excellence auction in 2009.

Las Lajas is an organic micromill located in Sabanilla de Alajuela in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Organic coffee in Costa Rica is almost non-existent and with this caliber of cup makes it one of a kind; they believe in the preservation of the environment hence their organic practices.  Las Lajas processes coffee from their family farms’; these lots are fully traceable and separated by day.  Water use is minimal since coffee is not washed.  During the harvest Francisca will measure the brix contents in the coffee cherry to determine the optimal time to pick their coffee.  21 - 22% brix content has been the maximum they’ve seen.

This Yellow Honey Process at the Las Lajas micromill is when 100% of the coffee cherry’s mucilage is left on, then set on a drying bed and turned hourly.  This honey process of leaving 100% of the mucilage on in all “levels” of honey is distinctive to Las Lajas.  This just shows that terminology can mean various things region to region and farm to farm.

 

Details:

Roaster: Terminus Coffee

Region: Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica

Farm: Finca San Luis By Oscar Chacon

Process: Yellow Honey Process - Screen and Patio Dried

Varietal: Caturra, Catuai

Elevation: 1,450m

 

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 13.3g © to 227g (w) | 1:55 total time | 205 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 21.3% Ext.

Initial sips are moderately juicy, transparent and clean transitioning into a lightly syrupy finish with palpable caramel flavor and before it finishes tapering an incredibly unique curl back up into an apple pop before finishing. Quite an alluring start.

A freshly squeezed spritz of lemon and a even lighter spritz of orange lines the acidity, beginning slightly effervescent but you can feel it begin to meld into a more juicy soak into the body, a body that which opens to notes of raspberry, white grape, dried kiwi and pineapple, and honeydew melon before it ends on what seems like a silhouette of a more savory cup - dustings of nuts and peppercorn that make you think of a drying yet creamy finish.  It is a bit similar to a Sulawesi in that regards, which if you know me you know I love.

Cooling further increased apple and pear sweetness comes out, sort of fruit punchy, the notes more delicate and lightly juicy on the front, still incredibly clean and refreshing, still bright with lemon and slight floral front, perfectly balanced, and carried a syrupy caramel and grape finish with orange and lavender lasting into the lingering finish.

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Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 553g (w) | 3:45 total time | 202 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 20.05% Ext.

Aroma is citrusy, spicy, cherry and caramel. Floral aromas grow as the cup opens.

Immediately diving in is syrupy, moreso than the previous make, with thin layers of caramel, green apple, blueberry, plum and a lemon meets berry acidity.  It is still clean with black grape, raspberry and pomegranate sweetness in the finish but not as present in the front of the sips.  Also carries light notes of tea-spice.  As it soaks in it feels a bit more winey like brandy, with a slightly drying mouthfeel and lingering dry sweetness.  

Open into the back half of the cup you find more juiciness on the front of the sips, and a lightly citrus but mainly berry acidity.  Still a silky, buttery, caramel led body where dense fruits soak in the middle, a little bit cider-esque, along with a chocolate mousse and salted caramel gelato in the finish.

 

Berry brandy, salted caramel gelato.

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:30 total time | 202 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.00% Ext. (preferred method)

Brewing aroma of plum, grilled peach, toasted nuts, caramel and floral.

Oooooooh. So luscious. Palpable and fleshy peach meets green grape.  A delicate and slick but deep flavor saturation as a buttery and juicy body meets caramel dropping sweetness takes over and glides into a floral ending, all with a slight tart plum and green apple tings poking at the tongue.  What a wild ride!

Flavors that begin to jump into the cup as it opens up include lemon pound cake complete with lemon icing, salted caramel gelato, one I those hip new combo juices of cranberry and pomegranate (let’s jus call it crangrante), and an unusual but delicious (if you knew how much of this I’d eat at Smokey Bones) finish of fire roasted corn, fresh from the grill.

What an absolute floodgate of flavor.

And now, as it tames a bit?  Nap time. Sweet caramel floats over the tongue like a blanket, and underneath are notes of black grape, plum. Sprinkled above are flower petals, seemingly with no pattern but still precisely placed.  High in the sky are the star, forming shapes of lemon and lime, and vanilla bean.

The ending is soft, juicy, with cinnamon sprinkles, plum, and caramel. With a perfumy clove and floral finish. What. A. Cup.

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 1:50 then plunge by 2:20 total time | 205 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.30% Ext. (Immersion mode)

Initial sips are bright, delicate, and candy-sweet, with soft notes of raisin, date, apricot, and some combo of white grape clarity and red grape juiciness fronting the cup.

Very clean, medium bodied.  Quickly it opens to door to a bit more syrupiness, as cranberry or pomegranate seem to make a little appearance as well as plum, a slight reduction a bit concentrated like grenadine, with notes of caramel and vanilla in the finish.

It drinks similarly to grape juice, silky smooth, clean, and carried a slightly dry apple feeling before ending on caramel syrupiness.  Cooling further the body fills out in the cup a bit, nicely rich, one of the most comfortably richnesses I’ve had in an aeropress for awhile, mellow and easy to drink with grape, plum, soft rose-like floral notes, a bit of a tingly berry acidity, and caramel and peanut butter sweetness carrying into the finish.

The caramel continues to grow in the finish, still keeping with the rose, plum, and buttery rich delicious mouthfeel and dried fruits, lemon, and a bit of blood orange in the lingering finish.  It reminds me of a craft chocolate bar.  YUM.

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Brew Method:

Shaken Iced Bonmac | 30g © to 280g (w) | 150g ice | 2:55 total time | 204 degrees

I remember trick-or-treating as a kid.  It seemed to be the only time one would ever encounter Tootsie-rolls in any flavor besides chocolate, but they existed in these miniature fruit rolls.

Cherry, orange, lemon, vanilla, and lime.

In a sense I am having that similar experience in this cup. At first it came off deliciously creamy in the back end- chocolate, caramel, praline.  However, as it opens you notice some of those other flavors- vanilla, lemon, lime, orange.  The front of each sip now is clean, with grape present but mainly these lemon and lime notes.  What is fun is there is a floral aspect that cuts through in the end, moreso than I think I found it in it’s hot counterparts.  It comes in after the salted caramel ending, like an encore performance.

Sitting longer it becomes not only very chewy in it’s mouthfeel of the caramel notes, but before that very juicy with pops of raspberry, cherry, and orange, candied like Tootsie-pops (gotta keep it in the family, here).  That orange seems to penetrate a bit more toward the end, but it isn’t sharp like in the hot methods.  Final drops will give a touch of an impression similar to a washed Yirgacheffe in the cup, and then, it’s gone.  Really pleasing iced coffee- clean, sweet, palpable finish.

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You know, I’m not experienced with starting my own roasting company.  I don’t know if others would say that their first offering came out of the gate strong or not, but I can tell you this: Terminus Coffee’s first offering is outstanding.  I have been searching for a really good Costa Rica offering, one that was fun and lively, clean and full of flavor.  I had been without much success until this one.  Not only was it every bit as good as I was looking for, but it was easy to get that in whatever device, whatever method, every time.  It’s excellent when you run into coffees that take no additional dial-in to get it singing, and this Las Lajas from Terminus takes the Grammy.

I really enjoyed the V60 make of this for how clean it was, I thought the notes really nicely defined for it’s first impressions.  I think the Chemex was the best cup overall, providing a bit more wild of an experience, full of flavor and shifting turns from sip to sip, but well within a maintained presentation.  I found the Aeropress most mellow, not mistaken as boring, but balanced in its richness and relaxed enjoyment.  

There really was no make of this that wasn’t good.  It danced on a ton of elements that are desirable in a coffee, be it florals, candy-sweet fruits, crisp brightness, syrupy salted caramel body, or just a clean and refreshing approach.  David and Mae, excellent, excellent job.

Watch out for these guys, and find this Las Lajas here.

 

When asked who have been their biggest supporters and encouragers, David and Mae give credit to a few select folks that have helped them get to where they are today, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we are excited to see your growth and future in the coffee community.

 

For me (David), Aaron Jordan would definitely have to be at the top. If you could see all the emails we have going back-and-forth with each other, you just might start to get a grasp on how tremendous of a help he has been. Even if he wasn’t teaching me something new, it is always awesome to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to reaffirm your own ideas. Aaron is the head roaster at Roast House in Spokane, WA, and has been since he was 20. Great guy, beautiful mind, admirable spirit.

There have been others as well, such as CJ at Tanager in Portland, Patrick at Blue Copper in Salt Lake, Marcus of Modest Coffee in Chicago, Maxwell Mooney of everything, the folks at Slate in Seattle, Scott at Herkimer in Seattle, Velton of Velton’sin Velton… er… Everett, WA, and many more!

(Mae)Don’t forget Heartbreak! I’ve emailed with Gretchen several times about legalities in starting up a business at home and how to do pop-ups. Gretchen and Michelle are some of my favorites ever. We’ve had tremendous support in the form of encouragement from people who love the blog, like Tia Richardson whose thirteen year old daughter (@finefocuscoffee on instagram) just started roasting coffee on a Gene Cafe. Also, Drew Moody, who helped bring a lot of attention to our blog in the beginning, and is part of the reason any of us coffee bloggers even have a platform. Our local friend Elizabeth Morrow, of the blog Delightfully Tacky, designed our logo in exchange for coffee subscription (and is now geeking out behind the bar at Metronome, one of Tacoma’s coffee shops). We’ve had help, in one way or another, through just about everyone in the coffee and blog communities we’ve come into contact with. Then there are the non-coffee people, like David’s supervisor, who is always encouraging (despite knowing that when the business is successful enough he’ll be losing him) and genuinely excited about our venture. I’m sure we’re still forgetting people. Like all the ones who just inspire us. We love every one of them!

We love you too, Puristas.  Congrats on living your dream.

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.