Llano de la Piedra, Tarrazú, Costa Rica
The Don Eli Micromill is located in the mountains of Tarrazu, in between the two picturesque towns of Santa Maria and San Marcos. The wet mill receives and processes coffee cherry from the four lots of the Montero family. Don Carlos and Doña Lucia were among the first producers to break from the co-op model and build their own wet mill. They have been producing top quality coffees ever since. Their microclimate holds consistent weather patterns, making for sunny days and breezy nights - ideal for all types of processing.
The Montero-Cordero Family
Both with family ties to their neighborhood for generations, Don Carlos and Doña Lucia make the heads of the Montero-Cordero family. Carlos was one of the first producers in the region to switch from deliverying coffee cherry to the local co-op to managing his processing at his own wet mill, named after his father, Don Eli. Today his son, Jacob, has largely taken charge of the farm's processing, bringing his own take on modern innovations and has already begun to leave his unique imprint on the results. Marianela and Perry (daughter and son-in-law) are heads of Selva Coffee, and do amazing work sourcing coffees in the Tarrazu region and beyond.
Honey Process Is Just The Beginning
Don Eli is known around the world for their honey processed coffees.
Their berry-like, rich graham cracker and chocolate profiles are hard to resist, but the Montero family offer so much more, both in terms of variety and process. Everything from Catuai to Gesha, double washed to anaerobic natural, Don Eli puts out a plethora of coffee profiles every year.
The wet mill is the central location where coffee cherry from their lots, 30 total, are gathered for further processing. The cherry is often delivered into the large tank in the evening, where it undergoes a short resting period of 24-48 hours before being depulped. Underripe or defective fruit is sorted out in the depulping process, and from there the coffee is laid out to dry on their covered raised beds or patio. Naturals are floated for quality and laid to to dry immediately.
Jacob has also been implementing very controlled and methodical fermentations in plastic tanks with amazing results. His style of fermentation is tactful and light, often opting for lower temperatures and short timeframes. He believes this increases complexity and flavour pronunciation while leaving enough space for the varietal characteristics to shine.
Don Eli x Selva x LULO
Where to begin.
I got my start working with coffee at its origin through Marianela and Perry of Selva coffee. I was their first intern, during the 2019 harvest. I lived with the Montero family for months and really got to experience their kindness, hospitality and friendship over that time.
When I went back for the 2020 season, I suffered a pretty gnarly accident on their farm, breaking my hip. The Monteros quite literally helped save my life that day, and helped care for me in the days that followed, through a surgery in San Jose, until a medevac took me back to Canada. Every year since starting LULO, I've had coffee from the same lot where I fell on the menu, and I don't plan on changing that.
It's been a wild ride with the Monteros but I couldn't think of a better bunch of people to do it with.