On my flight to Costa Rica I’m sitting next to a guy and as we are talking, a friend in the coffee business, Yoshi Kato, says ‘Hi’ to both of us. When I ask how he knows Yoshi he tells me he is a coffee exporter. As we talk and discuss coffee, farms and regions, he shares his admiration for Cerro Paldo and many of the people I work with. In discussing Guatemala he tells me he just visited and cupped this incredible coffee from a little know region called Jilotepeque. Tells me he visited and cupped for the first time and the chocolate and sweetness were incredible. Then tells me the farmer is Juan Luis Ortega and the farm is El Retiro. I laugh as I explain I carry his coffee and also just visited the farm. I tell him he can’t have the coffee as I buy it all….lol. Anyway, he says I don’t have to worry because he was there with the buyer from xxxxx (a large specialty chain in the US and beyond) and they don’t spend what it costs for the type of quality produced by Juan Luis.
So upon my arrival in Costa Rica, it’s much the same. Cup Cup Cup. Once again our current coffee Cerro Paldo (which we are out of), shines as does a new micro lot and a fantastic organic farm…Helsar. After a long day cupping we spend the 2nd day visiting farms and one I must tell you about is Helsar. Farmer Ricardo Perez is very old fashioned in his approach to coffee; simple quality. But very modern in how he achieves it; a newer micro mill with the latest advances in organic practices. Ricardo is a great guy who understands the importance of cupping, technology, quality, and relationships. We hope to have this coffee available later this year.
On our last day I cupped again early but spent the whole afternoon with one farmer; Don Juan Rafael of Cerro Paldo. Juan Rafael was really touched to see and accept a bag of HIS coffee roasted by Klatch. He proudly displayed it on the mantle. Rudy from the Assoproaa co-op joined me with the entire family at the farm. Juan Rafael’s daughter in law cooked a great meal for us of stew and I really stuffed myself. The vegetables, rice, potatoes and chicken all came from the farm. If El Retiro is diversity in a forest, then Cerro Paldo is truly sustainable farm diversity in practice. Juan Rafael grows dozens of varieties of fruit and produce for both consumption and sales. Truly Cerro Paldo and Assoproaa understand sustainability.
Speaking of Assoproaa, they are over 1,000 homes they have built all or part of for members and have expanded into the community as a whole with education and classes in entrepreneurship and business. They teach the farmers to develop and execute a business plan with everything including financing. Good Job Assoproaa.