Trunk Coffee of Nagoya, Japan is November 2015’s featured roaster in my Japanese coffee subscription from Kurasu and Good Coffee. I already reviewed Trunk’s Hama, a washed Yirgacheffe that blew me away (one of the best, if not the best, washed Ethiopian coffee of the year for me as well as the best aroma on a coffee that I have ever made), so I was anxious to get into the other bag for this month, their Costa Rican Herbazu.
Before I get into this coffee, it’s worth repeating that if you are in the USA (and I can only imagine the shipping is just as good everywhere else) and you are interested in this subscription, have zero worries about how fast you’ll receive your coffee. So far in the two months of the subscription I’ve received my coffee within a few days of its roasting, so the shipping is incredibly efficient. Faster than if you order something within the USA and have it shipped, incredibly. The only “downside” is that you have to sign for the package once USPS has it in their hands.
Now on to this coffee. Trunk’s second selection for the subscription is this Herbazu from Costa Rica. According to the labeling it is grown around 1500masl and it’s a mix of Villa Sarchi, Caturra and Catuai varietals that used the “yellow honey” process after picking. Costa Rica is definitely leading the charge in “honey processing” of coffee. Honey, also known as “semi-washed” or “pulp natural” is a type of processing that is in between a full natural and a fully washed process. Natural coffees are picked and sorted and then dried on raised beds with the coffee cherry completely intact. Once dried they are milled to remove the fruit and reveal the dried seed (what we call a coffee bean) within. Washed coffees get the cherry skins and the sticky mucilage fruit removed first and then the coffee beans, still covered in a layer called “parchment,” get laid out to dry.
Honey processing involves removing the cherry skins and some degree of the mucilage either using a special de-pulping machine or through a partial washing process. They are now often being referred to as yellow, red or black honey based on the technique, amount of pulp left on the beans, etc. Yellow honey coffees dry for about eight days and are going to be closer to a washed coffee having had more mucilage removed while black honey coffees are dried for a longer time and will be more similar to a traditional natural coffee.
Whew! Before I get into this coffee it it worth mentioning that the farm where this coffee was grown, Herbazu, is owned and operated by Manuel Antonio Barrantes and he won the Cup of Excellence award for Costa Rica this year! 1 I’m not sure if it was for this coffee or something different, but the winning coffee sold for Mr. Barrantes for $42.10/lb and will be headed to Japan and Australia for the high bidders!
Now, let’s talk about this coffee! This one has a beautifully sweet aroma of brown sugar and a full-bodied and complex flavor in the cup. I prepared my samples using a 1:15 ratio in my Gino pourover dripper. The first sips really highlighted a complex bitterness in this coffee as well as a bright, but not overpowering, lemon acidity. As the coffee cooled that bitterness (which I really enjoyed) declined and the acidity changed from lemon into more of an orange note. The sweetness in the cup picked up some and as the cup approached room temperature it got really nutty, specifically giving off a lot of toasted almond flavors.
Trunk completely knocked it out of the park for me this month. As I mentioned, I was a bit disappointed with one of the coffees from Glitch in October (it was just too light for my palate and that’s the nature of a subscription, you can’t love everything!) and the Hama from Trunk made up for that in spades. This Herbazu from Costa Rica was icing on the cake! I’m thankful for Kurasu and Good Coffee making these Japanese roasters available to us in the USA now!