Coffee beans can’t speak, but that doesn’t keep them from telling stories. This story involves a test-tube cultivar crossing the Atlantic ocean to become wound-up in a revolution underway on the side of a volcano in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Herbazu SL-28 exemplifies the Micro-mill Revolution and the market it created for farmers like Tonio Barrantes to push the envelope and experiment with their craft. The result: The introduction of one of the world’s favorite cultivars to one of the world’s favorite growing regions, brought to market with state-of-the-art processing technology. You can expect a malty sweetness, balanced by a tart mango-lemonade finish. Note, if the beans begin to actually talk, don’t talk back.

Developed in the 1930’s by Scott Laboratories on behalf of the Kenyan government; SL-28 would become one of the trinity of cultivars responsible for the productivity, disease resistance and exceptional flavor profile characteristic of Kenyan coffees.

Travel forward seven decades and east 120 degrees of longitude, and in Costa Rica a revolution was underway. Farmers – who’d typically delivered harvested coffee cherries to cooperative wet mills – were beginning to erect their own “micro-mills,” in order to regain control of the processing and marketing of their coffee and establish direct relationships with buyers.

Thanks to the entrepreneurial drive begat by the “Micro-mill Revolution”, farmers like Tonio Barrantes were keen to test new varieties and processes in the interest of marketing their coffee. Alas, the introduction of SL-28 – by Tonio and friends in 2008 – to Costa Rica can be seen as an archetype for the experimentation and out-of-the-box techniques beckoned by the Micro-mill Revolution in return for some of the most delicious Costa Rican coffees we’ve tasted to date.

Manuel Antonio “Tonio” Barrantes Zuñiga
Costa Rica
Lourdes de Naranjo, West Valley
1800 Meters
December – February
Bergamot, Mango Lemonade, Malty