Barista's Choice: EL QUEMADO

I remember pulling over to the side of a winding road in Tarrazu, Costa Rica and darting across traffic to get to El Quemado - my first stop among what would be many stops throughout my origin trip with CREMA last year. The steep incline required some strategic footing (and not-so-graceful slipping and sliding) as we climbed down an unassuming hill in the hot sun on the side of the road. Here I would taste my first coffee cherry - first of many...OH so many...I’m pretty sure my diet in Costa Rica consisted of mostly coffee cherries (and all the yuca and tostones I could get my paws on). Here I would ooh and ahh over a view that - it turns out - was just the tip of the iceberg of the stunning views I would see on this trip. Over the din of the highway, our good friend Luis would tell us that this farm was named “Quemado” (meaning “burning”) after a fire wiped out much of this area years ago. It wasn’t even close to the most majestic view or most adventurous journey to access coffee, but it was my first view, my first coffee journey and thereby cemented in my memory.

Fast forward to Nashville, a standard day of cupping upcoming coffees, my experiences in Costa Rica residing in the recesses of my mind. And then I tasted my first slurp (may not sound cute, but it’s accurate) of El Quemado…”WHAT IS THIS?!” I asked excitedly, neglecting all cupping decorum of stoicism and overall keeping-your-mouth-shut. Upon hearing that this juicy, fruity explosion was none other than my old friend El Quemado, my memories flooded back and I remembered my rookie climbing skills, my thoughts of “I’m probably going to need more sunscreen,” the burst of that first coffee cherry. I’m already a sucker for any fruit-forward coffee (El Quemado is a natural process with notes of Papaya, Cherry & Dark Chocolate), but pair that with my sentimental side and it was a done deal - El Quemado would be a favorite of mine for the foreseeable future.

Courtney has worked at CREMA for 4 ½ years, transitioning this year from barista to wholesale coordinator and marketing gal. She also moonlights as a chef, vocabulary enthusiast and NPR junkie.