Coffee Origin: San Jose Province, Central America
Coffee Certification: Shade Grown
This outstanding coffee is planted and harvested by Coope Tarrazu RL which was established in 1970 and since that time has become a major contributor to the economic development in the Los Santos region of Tarrazu. Coope Tarrazu RL controls the entire production process, from picking the cherry through the milling, drying, and exporting procedures, thereby assuring consistent supervision during the coffee production. Their quality standards are replicated lot after lot, year after year, and that enables them to deliver their excellent quality coffee to the specialty market.
The Co-Op works to promote a culture of sustainable production, in the producer, the family and the community, through the implementation of good agricultural practices that help reduce the impact of the carbon footprint.
Coopetarrazú has a system of 96 solar panels to achieve better energy efficiency. The implementation of this technology has achieved savings of up to 22% per month in the electric billing of the administrative building and in the supermarket La Coope, It has also allowed CoopeTarrazú to evaluate the benefits of opting for alternative energy generation that contribute to reduce the impact of the carbon footprint.
The management of solid and liquid coffee waste is managed in our coffee plantation and there is currently an irrigation field that uses honey water (water after its use during the wet milling process) and a composting project, which helps to convert coffee pulp in coffee Organic fertilizer and which is provided to producers to implement it on their farms, always trying to ensure sustainability in the processes.
The primary coffee variety grown in Costa Rica are Caturra and Catuai. Caturra is a natural mutation of Bourbon that has good cup quality potential and good yields but is susceptible to leaf rust. Catuai was created from the cross of Mundo Novo and Caturra varieties. Villa Sarchi and Villa Lobos are not as prevalent, but are indigenous to Costa Rica. Villa Sarchi is descendent of the Bourbon variety and Villa Lobos is a descendent of the Typica Variety.
Environmentalism and Legislation
Between 1950 and 2000, Costa Rica’s forest cover had decreased by more than half, primarily because of clear cutting for agricultural and pasture land. As a result, soil erosion and quality degradation became prevalent. Concurrently, coffee plantations were heavily reliant on fertilizers and releasing their wastewater into the countries water ways. The county’s ecosystems were heavily damaged, and the government responded by passing two landmark environmental regulations: The General Environmental Law and The Biodiversity Act. These laws created the Ministry of Environment and Energy, National Environmental Council, and a specialized environmental court. The Biodiversity Law also created the National System of Conservation Area and approximately 30% of Costa Rica’s land is protected as parks, reserves, or refuges. Costa Rica depends heavily on these protected lands for Eco-tourism, which accounts for more than double the GDP of coffee production.
The environmental laws created strict standards for water treatment to protect the countries water ways. The waste-water from coffee mills must be filtered which can be expensive when large amounts of water are consumed. This encouraged producers to stray from the traditional washed processing style which would consume 3,000 liters of water to produce 1 Fanega of coffee. Mills switched to eco-pulpers and mechanical demucilagers that require considerably less water. These machines can use as little as 200l of water per fanega of cherry.
Cooperatives and Micromills
Cooperatives became officially recognized by the constitution in 1949 and initially expanded, but fluctuating prices and organizational problems caused many to close by the 1980s. Today, Coop Dota, Coop Tarrazu, and Coop Naranjo are among the largest producers in Costa Rica collectively representing over 8,000 members. Over 700 cooperatives across all agricultural sectors exist in Costa Rica, and 1 in 5 Costa Ricans belong to a cooperative of some kind. Approximately 40% of Costa Rican coffee is produced through a cooperative.
Beginning with La Candelilla in 2000, there has been a growing number of farmers or small collectives opening their own micro-mills. Since then, over 150 have opened. By processing coffee themselves, they attempt to retain more of the value that the coffee is sold for. Increased demand for “direct trade” and traceability has drawn specialty coffee consumers to buy from these mills across the country. The mills are pioneering new and experimental processing styles which elevate the quality of traditionally mild coffee.
Coupled with the water restrictions, micro-mills are heavily investing in natural, honey, and anaerobic processing styles. Naturally dried coffees are those that are dried with the entire cherry intact. Honey processed coffees are pulped and dried over varying periods of time with varying degrees of mucilage remaining. Anaerobic coffees are fermented in sealed tanks for several days before being dried in the sun. This may be whole cherry or pulped cherry. These tend to produce more fruit forward coffees that are desired in North America and Europe. Costa Rican micro-mills are creating successful brands based on the consistency and clarity of their unwashed coffees, and that allows them to have sustainable long term partnerships with buyers around the world.