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Heather Perr in Costa Rica

By Heather Perry, Director of Training and Consulting

After two weeks of travels which started at the National Coffee Association (NCA) Convention in New Orleans followed by an intriguing east cost consulting gig, I finally arrived in Costa Rica Friday (March 18) on a red eye from LAX. I wasted no time for the last leg of my trip where Rodolfo from Inter American swifts me to his office to cup coffee from farmers we were going to be visiting during the weekend.

On the table we had 11 coffees, from Candelilla, Cafe Suarez, and Herbezu. The coffees were a great representation of Costa Rica, portraying juicy peach and sweet lemonade while other were more brown sugar sweetness with a creamy, nutty body. What was great about this table was that it provided me with preview of what to expected over the course of my farm visits.

So after cupping, we went to Herbazu in the West Valley, north west of San Jose. Herbazu is a multigenerational farm that added a micro mill just over ten years ago, there are 5 brothers and 9 sisters involved in business. At Herbazu they grow almost Viasarche, a varietal you do not see a lot of in Costa Rica. They have a simple operation but do things well, really focusing on every step of the process, including hand sorting.

The next farm we visited was Cafe Suarez. This was one of my favorite coffees and currently they grow almost all Cattui on their farm. This is another multigenerational farm that added a micro mill about ten years ago, maybe a little less. The Suarez brothers added the micro mill during the coffee crisis when the farm was struggling. Something I really appreciated about the operation here is the traceability. They have the ability to look at any bag in the warehouse and can track the day it was picked and milled, whether it was dried on African beds or the patio, and what area the farm it came from. Another exciting things about Cafe Suarez is that they have so much space available to grow their production, and it will be exciting to see what they decide to plant and how the flavor profiles change.

Saturday we went to Candelilla where we met with Marvin and his wife. At Candelilla they grow primarily Cattui and Caturra but they also grow Geisha. Like the other two farms, they also added a micro mill about 10 years ago. One thing all the farms have in common is almost no one used fermentation tanks, they all use demuciligers with about 10% of the honey left on. Finca Candelilla also recycles all their pulp and use it for compost. Candelilla is an ideal partner for Klatch because they love to experiment and try new things. Whether it be a new varietal like Geisha, or a new processing method, they are continually advancing in their methods and we are really looking forward to cupping exciting coffees from them in the future.

While the farm visits are completed, I now get to spend the week with the Costa Rican National Barista Champion to train for World Barista Competition (WBC).

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