Sunday was our last day to visit with relationships here in Costa Rica as we head home on Monday. Excited to get back and share samples with our team from this years harvest and get everyone excited for what's to come. This is the fourth season we've been down to Costa Rica and it's been really interesting seeing how much has changed since our first visit. There's new infrastructure, new plants, plants that we saw at a young age that are now producing sufficient amounts of coffee!
The last coffee region we needed to visit was West Valley, where we have three relationships that we've been buying coffee from since our first trip to Costa Rica in 2015.
The first of which we visited was Allen Oveido at the Don Joel Micro-mill. He's based very close to the town of Grecia and has approximately 15 hectares of land planted with coffee. Where the mill is located is right as you enter the farm (which is called La Cumbre, lots of names, I know) and it sits on a flat piece of land fully surrounded by coffee plants. An issue Allen has here is with wind and he's had trouble maintaining the structural integrity of the mill. In the first few years, he was using thick plastics for the walls and roof of the structure that covers his beds and patios, providing shade for the coffee that's drying. The winds have torn these plastics and required him to adapt and invest in a material that will have more longevity. It was awesome to see he's improved the walls of the structure and they look like they're not going anywhere with the wind anytime soon! Hopefully this helps improve his efficiency at the mill as we know he works long days and heavily cares for his quality.
The next improvement he mentioned he'd like to make is with a new depulper. He has a an old school machine that's built in London by the company John Gordon. It works well for honey coffees, but he's hoping he can do some washed coffees next season and an investment here will enable that. Washed coffees are more consistent for a coffee producer and less labor intensive, so another increase to efficiency at the mill with this investment will help Allan greatly. Hopefully you can look forward to some washed coffees from Don Joel in 2019!
We wandered the farm through a long winding path and view a good portion of his plants. He has some exotic varietals that have about one year of age; Pacamara, Maragogype, H1, H3, Geisha, SL28 and Ethiopia varieties. Looking forward to these in the future.
We saw a few other plots that were planted before our first visit in 2015 and are now producing. There's SL28 from Kenya, Villasarchi and Typica that are looking great. The wind has affected their yields and so have rains, but the cup quality was really nice. We've aligned a few lots of each of these to bring back to Calgary this season. Excited, expecially for the SL28!
Allan invited us back to his home for lunch after our tour. We were able to enjoy some time with his son, daughter and wife before heading on to visit a nearby farm and micro-mill in the West Valley. This lunch was unreal. Fall-off-the-bone ribs, beautiful fresh vegetables, rice and beans (of course) and some tasty potatoes. It was nice that apart from the ribs, Paul who is a vegan could eat everything available. We finished this great meal, said our goodbyes and headed on for the afternoon.
Next up was Sumava, which is operated by Fransisco Mena whom we visit here in Costa Rica at Exclusive Coffees. We have a nice relationship with Fransisco and have seen Sumava from the very beginning of it's start. He took over the farm in November 2014 and we first visited in December 2015. It's been very impressive the work they've done during this short time. In 2016, Sumava won the Cup of Excellence in Costa Rica - that doesn't come without hard work and time investment.
The mill is very sophisticated, with beautiful drying beds that are colored for easy identification in different processing techniques, a well equiped Penagos depulper that's state of the art and some funky tools for different processing experiments. Always clean processing from Sumava. This season, we've aligned an Anaerobic process as well as a White Honey process, so two very different offerings from Sumava. These should be fun to share.
The future at Sumava looks bright, with a lot of young coffee plants that should have a high production in the next season or two as they have beautiful management and very ideal terroir. The majority is planted in an area that's well shielded to wind, sees great sunlight in the morning and has optimal shade for the mid-day and afternoon sun. As long as weather conditions cooperate, the 2018/2019 season should be fantastic for Sumava. We're really happy with what we have to offer you soon.
Sadly, we didn't make it to Anonos farm to visit the Barrantes brothers as it was the Sunday before Holy Week and they were away. We'll have to spend some extra time next season.
On our way back to Canada now with bags filled with coffee samples. Excited to share these with our team back home!