Jack (CEO) and Dismas (Head Roaster) are on a coffee buying trip to Central America. These are notes from their journey.
Feb 15, 2015
We arrive in Costa Rica and head to our hotel. Upstairs, we drop off our things and send a few emails. It’s Sunday, so after lunch we have an afternoon free to ourselves. We grab a cab into downtown San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city. It’s modern and we enjoy walking the city, looking at churches and the unique European-influenced architecture. The day passes all too quickly and we all agree we’d love more time to explore San Jose.
Feb 16, 2015
After breakfast, Exclusive Coffees picks us up and we head to their dry mill and lab. Exclusive Coffees is owned and operated by Francisco Mena. He is one of the most passionate and charismatic gentlemen I’ve ever met. We’ve been buying coffee for Ladro Roasting through Francisco for 4 years and we’re happy to see him and his amazing staff again.
At its core, Exclusive Coffees is a dry mill; but Francisco has fostered a movement called the “Micro-mill Revolution.” This is when small farms add a wet processing station, making them capable of lot-sorting and drying, two of the most significant steps in achieving the high quality beans the specialty market is looking for. After this processing, Francisco collects, cups, and categorizes all these micro-lots for the farms, then brings in the roasters to taste and buy the coffee. It’s an amazing operation that allows roasters and farmers unprecedented exposure to one another. He is currently partnered with over 90 micro-mills!
After a few stories and amazing coffee from a Chemex, we plan our day of farm visits. Our first stop is Santa Rosa 1900. This small farm and mill is situated on a high promontory overlooking Terrazu Valley. With excellent elevation and 100% African drying beds, their quality is always stellar. Next up is the famous Don Mayo Micro-mill. This is where we bought our Geisha last year and we are excited to see the farms. We continue this process of micro mill tours late into the evening. After our sixth mill and last stop our host jokes: “How about one more?” Not as funny as it should be. We are beaten down, tired, and a long way from the hotel. Finally back at 9:00pm, we have a bite and drinks and get to bed.