Spring 2017 Coffee Buying Trip Journal

Day 1

To begin our Spring 2017 coffee buying trip, we traveled to the impressive West Valley, Costa Rica. We stopped first at La Eva, a micro mill, where we got an amazing tour and a lovely breakfast.

Breakfast in Beneficio La Eva in Costa Rica

Then we hopped in the bus and headed for La Perla. This micro mill is owned and operated by Deanna and Carlos Barantes (Antonio Barantes of Herbazu is his brother). La Perla is one of the cleanest operations I’ve ever seen. Their attention to detail is incredible. We were actually asked to remove our shoes before entering the fully enclosed drying patio!

La Perla coffee mill in Costa Rica one of the stops on Ladro's spring 2017 coffee buying trip

Next,  we drove 40 minutes to the Aguilera Brothers micro mill. There we met 4 of 7 smiling brothers that run the amazing operation. After tours we made our way back to La Eva and started cupping. We tried La Perla and Aguilera coffees and found them exceptional, and bursting with acidity of lemon lime and passion fruit.

 Las Lajas in Costa Rica one of the stops on Ladro's spring 2017 coffee buying trip

After a quick bite, we were on our way to the famous mill, Las Lajas, in the Central Valley. Francisco and Oscar Chacon supervise this family operation. I visited five years ago, but they have expanded–adding a beautiful quality control lab and cupping room with the most amazing view! A long a detailed tour with hikes in the field helped us understand the operation, and their dedication to excellence. Constantly experimenting, the Chacons produce arguably the finest coffee of Costa Rica.

The cupping table confirmed this by showing consistency, and an overall balance not seen earlier in the day. Costa Rican coffee is blessed with great acidity, but to be an exceptional cup it needs to be balanced with sweetness. I’m excited to say I found a ten bag micro lot with the name of Perla Negra. This natural processed coffee shows brown sugar sweetness, and ripe pineapple and strawberry acidity. Yum!

Jack Kelly

Spring 2017 Coffee Buying Trip Journal

Day 2

We continued our spring 2017 coffee buying trip by settling in for a long three hour drive to Terrazu region. Traffic was terrible around San Jose! We head to Santa Teresa 2000, which is the he highest micro mill in Costa Rica. The 40 minute ride up was amazing (4×4 only), and full of sweeping views, stomach dropping cliffs and hair pin turns. They gave us a nice breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans), queso fresco, and the best watermelon I’ve ever had! Next we drove up another 150 meters to tour the mill and farm. It’s actually at 2120 meters! In most of Costa Rica the harvest is complete, but here it’s only beginning.

Drying Beds at Santa Teresa in Costa Rica 2100 meters

We spent the next couple hours hiking around the farm tasting ripe coffee cherries. It’s amazing how varietals differ, but when a cherry is at full ripeness, it is bursting with sweetness! We say good bye to Roger and his son, Jose, and headed down the mountain where we had a lunch next to a river of rapids and waterfalls. Unreal!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at Coopedota, one of the best of the larger mills. The Co-op’s goal is to keep processing costs as low as possible for their 800 or so producers. Roberto, the CEO, gave us a tour. Their drying innovations amaze me. They have a 10 meter high “ferris wheel” with drying trays that spin, and keep the drying consistent without man power. Their cuppers indicate this drying process results in a two point increase in quality, which translates into a lot of dollars.

Following the tour, we cupped coffees for a couple hours. The quality is amazing–these are the most balanced coffees, as a group, I’ve tried. After the three hour drive back to town, we had dinner at 10:00pm. I was ready for sleep, but didn’t see it until 12:30.

Jack Kelly