Our Origin Travels - Costa Rica

Posted by admin in Coffee Trails

Charlotte, our Green Bean Buyer, and Nich, our Head Roaster, have wrapped up the Costa Rica leg of their trip to origin. The dynamic duo have journeyed to meet producers in the regions of Brunca, Tarrazu, Central and West Valley.

Day 1 & 2:

We drove to Perez Zeledon and we visited CoopeAgri in the Brunca region. This co-op is 56 years old, with 141 receiving points around Brunca. They work with 4,700 coffee producers (3% of total Costa Rica). Here the average farm size is below 10 hectares, and farmers yield around 110,000 quintales of production per farm.

CoopeAgri have a school of producers, like an university inside the coop for technical assistance, as well as 3 agronomists constantly on the fields. In the last 5 years Brunca grew very fast because of climate change, it used to be a very cold region (surnamed Alaska). It is sad that climate change is impacting so much, creating a new coffee region. But it is smart to anticipate this issue buy starting to grow coffee in this area already.

They also started a picking project 8 years ago, they start now to see the result of amazing picking and ripeness quality. CoopeAgri has built 78 houses for poor people in Perez Zeledon.

Day 3:

After that, we drove all the way to Tarrazu Region, where we visited Finca Vara Blanca, and La Pira de dota.

Finca Vara Blanca – Mario is the 3rd generation son pushing the boundaries of farming and processing. Introducing new varieties and systems. He’s only 26 years old and has completely upgraded the quality of the coffee they produce in Vara Blanca. Can’t wait for you to taste his coffee!

Finca La Pira de dota – This is one of the very first revolutionary micro-mill in Costa Rica! Don Carlos Ureña has this 8 hectares where coffee grows in the middle of stones. He mainly grows Catuai, Typica and Geisha varieties of coffee.  Carlos Ureña is a zootechnology engineer and agronomist. He makes his own organic fertilisers.

Day 4: 

We cupped with all the coffee producers of the Tarrazu area.

Day 5:

We drove back to San Jose, and stopped by the most innovative cloning nursery in the world! This is located in Cartago. They manage to make a perfect selection for stable and controlled plants, yields, resistant and unique outstanding cup profile!

Day 6 & 7:

We drove to Central Valley to cup coffees.

Day 8: 

We went to visit Don Oscar and Doña Francisca Chaco’s farm, Las Lajas! I’ve been waiting my whole career to meet this couple! They own 60 hectares of land around Central Valley, and the very well known Las Lajas mill.

As we all know the water usage is severely restricted in Costa Rica, but the country is known for producing washed coffees with a very little amount of water and using demucilagers. The machine they used to have was always leaving some mucilage on the parchments, and this was visually rejected by the buyers, since honey process was considered a defect 14 years ago.

So the Chacon decided to only share their samples once dry milled and green sorted, in order to not be discriminated by a buyer’s preconceived ideas. From that, they started to only produce honeys. A few years later, they bought a new and efficient mechanical demucilager that was remove the whole mucilage, leaving the parchment perfectly clean.

In 2008 Las Lajas started natural processing. In the same year, a terrible earthquake destroyed Costa Rica. They were left with no water and electricity for one week, and this happened in the middle of the harvest. Most of the pickers left the farm, so nobody was here to harvest or process coffees. This is how they decided to just leave the fruits dry by themselves. They brought these samples to ICAFE but the samples were rejected.

A little later an organisation asked for one free bag of coffee for a charity event, in which a few farms donated coffee towards. A few weeks later this organisation visited the mills which made coffee donations and did some cuppings. One visitor asked this coffee was and Francisca gave a sample of to this visitor, which was previously rejected by ICAFE and cupped there with the whole group. Everyone loved it!

After this, an American magazine wrote an article about Costa Rica doing similar processing as Ethiopia and other African countries, creating amazing cup profiles. So Oscar brought the coffee sample back to ICAFE, which they rejected again, so he show them the magazine publication. They started to name “natural process” differently in order to be accepted by the national standards: perla negra – alma negra.

Day 9:

We drove to West Valley to cup more coffees!