Once upon an April 19th, we held our first ever public cupping. We opened up our home/headquarters to you lovely people to see exactly what a coffee cupping felt like. To maintain the intimate, personal atmostphere that cupping requires, we limited our event to 10 tickets, and it was a mad race between Facebook and Twitter. All tickets were gone in a matter of minutes.
And we’re doing it all over again! But this time, I’d like to give all you dedicated blog readers a head start. That’s right, all three of you. Even you, mom. Ladies and gentlemen, before the mad rush, your special secret presale ticket access:
Your special secret presale starts today at 6pm and goes until Thursday, May 23 at noon. You can tell friends if you want, but I’m limiting it to 5 tickets max through this presale. After that, just stay tuned for the normal tickets launch. I’m thinking that will be Thursday at 6pm.
I love you all. Thanks for reading.
Hey all, I recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica to visit coffee farms, cup coffees and meet people. This trip was a life changing experience for me, where I learned not only about coffee and how it is grown and processed, but also how the farmers and the people who work at origin are just as into coffee as we are. Without them, exactly none of what we do at One Village would be possible.
My trip starts on an early Monday morning in Philadelphia, with me rushing to the airport to get to my plane before takeoff and boom: 7 hours later I land in the tropical paradise of San José, Costa Rica. Here I meet our translator and soon to be friend, Sebastian, and the director of the Coopranaranjo (a coffee coop in the Naranjo region), a man known as Jose Antonio, but you can call him Tio Vega. Next, to the hotel to eat some dinner and plan our route; we want to make sure we can get the most out of the trip. My accomplices on this trip are Jamie Schoenhut, president of Royal Coffee NY; Ryan Ludwig, manager at Blue State Coffee in Boston; and Bob Garver; owner and roaster of Wicked Joe and Bard Coffee in Portland, Maine.
Tuesday, our first full day in Costa Rica, finds us heading to the Coopranaranjo Headquarters to cup 16 microlots of fantastic coffees. We are met once again by Jose Antonio and his fantastic staff, where we enjoy a mid morning snack, or elevensies as the hobbits would call it, and are shown a short presentation about his coop. We then head off to the cupping room to cup and discuss flight after flight of coffee. During the process we choose several of the very best lots to import and start roasting back here in Souderton.
After the cupping we head out to a typical Costa Rican restaurant where I experienced my first, and definitely not last, chicharrones. The fried pork cubes which are available throughout Central America are a fantastic staple, not a day went by that I didn’t get to have at least one helping of this delectable food. After lunch we headed back to the HQ and met with the directors of the coop. Jamie presented the reason we were there: to find exceptional microlots (micro lotes) of coffee and to develop lasting relationships with the farmers and coops. After the presentation we spent time getting to know the coop members and board outside on the back porch.
Wednesday finds us heading to the other side of the mountains to a region known as Tarrazu where we are going to meet the association members of ASOPROAAA and cup some more amazing microlots. We are greeted at the headquarters by a man known only by his first name Rudy. It went a little something like, “Woody, meet Rudy, Rudy, Woody!!” We then laughed and knew that this is going to be a fun day. We once again commence the cupping ceremonies and are once again blown away by the great coffees and pick several lots to import.
After the cupping we head over to Luis’s house. Luis is the manager of one of the processing plants for ASOPROAAA. At Luis’s house we are treated to what I would call an upscale version of the local cuisine, of course including chicharrones as well as some other local foods. But mostly chicharrones. We get to tour Luis’s fantastic property and finalize our pricing with the association. After the tour we head back to ASOPROAAA headquarters where Jamie shows his presentation to the farmers and staff. We again get to share why we are there, our passion for meeting the farmers and bringing back excellent coffees, and how we are going to use them. We finally head back to the hotel after a long, fun day and get ready for visiting the farms.
Thursday comes early and we head back to the Tarrazu region. The first farm we visit is the Saga Farm which is owned by Francis Monge Campos. Francis recently purchased this lot and has only been working it for one year. The coffee we chose from this farm is a 100% bourbon varietal and is only planted on 3 hectares of the 35 he has available, the rest is caturra. He has started using organic farming principles on the farm, adding many porro shade trees and using organic fertilizers. It is mind blowing to consider that pickers must hang on to the side of steep hills and carry baskets of coffee all day long. Luckily the conditions have improved and the pay scale has increased; making it more rewarding for the hard work they do. After visiting Saga we thank Francis and head for our next visit.
The Brothers Navarro, Juan Carlos and Jose Luis, run three coffee farms. We first visited one called La Guirra (it was one of the better lots we tried at the cupping). After that we headed to El Higueron, another of their farms, and possibly the most beautiful coffee farm I have seen, stretched out in rows all along the hillside and interlaced with lemon, orange, banana, India cane and porro trees for shade and to add organic nutrients back into the soil. Our final stop with the brothers Navarro finds us at their home farm, El Llano, where we are greeted by the entire family and are invited in for a hearty lunch. While we were there we found out that this year was the first time they actually drank the coffee they produced. In years past they would just drop it off and get paid for the beans, but now, thanks to ASOPROAAA and their microlot initiatives, they are drinking what they produce and they are so happy with how good their coffee is. After the wonderful lunch and family time we head to Naranjo to visit Guapinol farm. This one is well established and has been in the family for years. We toured the grounds with Eduardo Calvo, who has been farming since he was a boy with his father and grandfather.
Thursday evening we head over to the home of one the Coopranaranjo board members for a goodbye and thank you dinner. We are treated to some amazing grass-fed beef steaks and some fantastic chorizo from the grill; as well as some of the local beverages. It was a great cap off to the week and a chance to get to know some of the farmers and coop members even better. I don’t think I will soon forget the hospitality and warmth we received, nor the friendships that have started as a result.
This trip has taught me many things; most of all it is that coffee is a precious thing that touches many lives along its path to our cups. We should never take for granted the process by which we are able to drink this amazing beverage. I highly recommend visiting a coffee farm, getting to know those who work so hard for their craft and, when we get this product, to treat it with respect knowing how hard the people have worked to make it all possible.