La Casona de Dona Lina

La Casona de Dona Lina

We woke up this morning in the beautiful Dota Valley, a subregion of Tarrazu. We spent the night in a little Cabina run by a nice lady named Cecilia. If you find yourself around there, I'd highly recommend it.

Cecilia cooked us breakfast with scrambled eggs, rice and beans, mixed fruits and toast - pretty classic. We made our own coffee and thanked her for offering hers. We were on the road by 8:00.

Our first stop for the day was back with Roger Solís and his family at La Casona de Dona Lina. They wanted to showcase how they process their cherries, which we were of course very interested in seeing.

Since we visited last year, Roger has made some pretty large investments in his mill. Last year, he was depulping the majority of his cherry by hand with a tiny little unit. This year, he had installed a Penagos which he bought from a cooperative up north that rarely ever used it. It brought the average day of processing down from 12-14 hours, to around 3-4. Crazy.

We were toured through the process in detail, and offered to lend a hand where we could. Of course, that received thanks and smiles, and landed us a only a little bit of work. They didn't let us do all that much other than take floaters (underripe cherries) out of fermentation tanks, move some clean parchment to the beds and take some coffee on the patios. Even with the little we contributed in assistance, we've found a new appreciation for coffee processing.

We left Sebastian, the youngest son of 17 years old, and his team of three to finish the efforts of processing and made our way down to El Rodeo. This is the second farm the Solís family owns, and is located just below their mill. This is where the coffee we've purchased in the past is from.

The farm is splendid. It's filled with Catuai trees that are strong, full of sweet cherries and nicely staggered with banana trees for shade. The land has been in the family since Roger was growing up and has been planted with coffee for nearly 15 years. We spent an hour or so walking through the farm, asking questions and learning lots.

After our tour, we zipped down the road to meet with Roger's son-in-law Caesar and his brand new micro-mill, Cerro La Cruz. We haven't tasted any of their coffee - we picked up samples - but it's always nice to see different mills and different practices. A quick tour there, and we were back to see Roger for lunch. A welcome meal after our work processing and hiking the farm. I'm starting to understand why Latin culture loves their siestas.

Once we said our goodbyes and thank yous to the Solís family, we were out of plans for the day. So we jumped in the car with Francisco Jose and did a circuit of a few mills. Introduced ourselves, saw their practices and picked up samples. It was nice to see what everyone else in such a well renowned region was doing.

We arrived back at the Cabinas, intersected a group of coffee buyers from Australia and went on a team trip for dinner. Dinner was at a little tourist restaurant beside a nice waterfall. We seem to eat a lot on these trips, if you haven't picked that part up yet.

That about sums up our day. Tomorrow, we're up early for breakfast and on the road from Tarrazu to Chirripo around 7:30, ideally. We're headed to see Jose Alvarado of Imperio Rojo, then we'll be back to San Jose.

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