What’s Brewing #11 – Costa Rica Terra Bella

Terra Bella LatteIt has been a little while since the last What’s Brewing post, however back we are today, having roasted another batch of Costa Rica Terra Bella (Honey) last weekend. Having picked up a kilo of this coffee from Ministry Grounds a few weeks ago, this was my second roast batch, which seemed to do a better job at bringing out the flavours than the first attempt.

On with the review:

Costa Rica Terra Bella Villa Sarchi
– Altitude: 1450–1500m
– Crop Year: 2013
– Varietal: Villa Sarchi
– Processing: Honey

 Terra Bella Estate is located in the West Valley region of Costa Rica, about 35km west of the capital city of San Jose. This is one of the most classic coffee regions of Costa Rica and the one with the highest coffee production in the country nowadays. The reason for this is the excellent conditions to produce coffee that are prevalent here: deep, rich volcanic soils, high altitudes, moderate and well-distributed rainfall, cool temperatures, etc.

Information courtesy Ministry Grounds via The MTC Group

A little more on the Honey processing method, courtesy of The Coffee Review:

“Honey” is a relatively new term describing coffee that has been dried with all or some of the sticky fruit pulp or “honey” (miel in Spanish) still adhering to the bean. Those familiar with coffee processing methods will, of course, recognize this practice as a kind of compromise between two more familiar processing methods: the dry or “natural” method, in which the beans are dried while entirely encased inside the fruit, and the wet or “washed” method, in which all of the soft fruit residue, both skin and pulp, are scrubbed off before the coffee is dried.

Latte, V60 Filter, Aeropress, Espresso

Through milk in a latte or flat white, this coffee performed extremely well and resulted in a creamy, sweet brew with subtle apple and caramel flavours. When brewed as an espresso, I couldn’t help but think perhaps I should have let the roast run a little darker, as the acidity overpowered things a little. Not undrinkable by any stretch, however not quite as pleasant as some of the other varieties I’ve roasted and tried recently.

Which brings us to the V60 filter and Aeropress methods, which seemed well suited to both the coffee and the roast profile, producing a very well-balanced cup from either method. The V60 probably outshines the Aeropress slightly, with a cleaner, brighter cup, again containing sweet apple and a caramelly, honey like layer, with a nice long finish.

Conclusion; Know This
I really enjoyed the Costa Rica Terra Bella, with my preference being either as a milk drink, or on its own through the V60. As I mentioned above, this was my second roast batch, and definitely an improvement on the first. Looking back through my notes, the second time around was a slightly larger batch (450g vs 300g), which probably slowed the roast down a little, although I used the same heat ramp profile. In any event, if you get the chance to try this coffee, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 3.75/5

Dreaming of a Light Christmas…Roast

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Here we are at “that” time of the year again. Where we all can’t believe how busy we are, yet spend a good portion of our time telling others precisely that, rather than actually working on what we need to do. Nor can we believe how quickly the year has gone, and also need to remember of course it will be a long hot summer this year…

I think you get the idea. Trust me, we’ll all get through it people – and we’ll all be OK. Enjoy yourselves, being with family, and remember the “reason for the season”.

With the ham and prawns safely ordered, here at dept4 it is time to put together our Christmas coffee blend for another year. Family members who sampled the limited run last year enjoyed the blend, so this Christmas the distribution will be cast a little wider to include extended family and some work colleagues as well.

Another year means a new blend, and this year we are aiming to combine two flavour profiles that embody those of Christmas. The rich candied fruit and currant flavours of fruit cake, along with the summer flavours of berry and citrus. Often the case when searching for some fruitiness in a blend, we look to Africa for our origin beans. After a scan through the green beans on offer from our ever reliable supplier Ministry Grounds, here is what you can expect (tasting notes and background courtesy Ministry Grounds):

Kenya Karamikui

The taste:

Citrus, berries and currants in aroma, hazelnuts, guava, plum, vibrant grapefruit acidity, full body with rounded honey sweetness, long intense finish


This coffee comes from the Kirinyaga district. Kirinyaga is located within Kenya’s Central Province, a key area for Kenya’s large coffee industry. The district lies close to Mt. Kenya, and encompasses high elevations of between around 1600–1800 meters above sea level, ideal conditions for growing high quality coffee.
Small-scale farmers are organized into well-managed central pulperies, also called Coffee Factories. Karimikui Coffee Factory is the name of the washing station where this particular lot comes from.

Rwanda Nyarusiza (Buf)

The taste:

Maple syrup sweetness with candied orange, mandarin, stone fruit dark chocolate and elderflower. Medium body.


Buf Café was founded in 2003 by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a dynamic businesswoman and a source of inspiration to countless other female entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee sector and beyond. Buf is now managed by Epiphanie and her son, Samuel Muhirwa, who is taking an increasingly active role in running and expanding the business. The title ‘Buf’ derives from ‘Bufundu’, the former name of the region in which its washing stations are located.

Epiphanie, who was born in 1959, was widowed during the 1994 genocide – which claimed over 800,000 lives in just 3 months – but chose not to leave her family’s small coffee farm. Instead she set about rebuilding and developing her business, and with it the local community. She started Buf Café in 2003, when she established Remera washing station with a loan from the Rwandan Development Bank and the assistance of the USAID-financed PEARL project.

The initial roast batches are now complete, and as the title of this post suggests, the roast was on the lighter side to align with the majority of brewing methods used by those who will receive the blend (Aeropress, French Press, Pourover).

After sampling the results, the exact ratios of the blend will be determined and we will then ship the finished product immediately to ensure maximum freshness and pre-Christmas delivery.

We hope you enjoy!