|General information||Variety: Red Catuai|
|Crop year: 2018|
|Sensorial information||Variety: Cupping score: 87,5|
|Orange | Chocolate | Tangerine | Stone Fruit | Milk Chocolate|
Origin: Origin: Don Oscar
Farmers’ & Spouses’ names: Alejandro Solis Blanco & Jackeline Urena; Horacio Solis Blanco & Helen Naranjo
Farmers’ Year of Birth: Alejandro (1972); Horacio (1976)
Children’s names & years of birth: Alejandro: Maricruz (1992), Graciela (1998); Horacio: Jose Daniel (2012)
The family’s history with coffee production
Don Oscar micromill is named after Alejandro’s and Horacio’s late-father Oscar, who passed away very recently. Don Oscar established the beneficio together with his sons in 2013. It was a family project that was important for Don Oscar to complete, even after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer some time ago. Alejandro and Horacio are fourth generation coffee farmers. They inherited their love for coffee from their father and chose to continue the family tradition. They love both the physical work of tending coffee plants and they enjoy being a part of the production cycle of coffee from seed to parchment.
The brothers’ biggest challenges in producing coffee are rust, climate change (particularly unpredictable rain patterns) and the costs associated with combating and/or preventing disease (e.g. pesticides & fertilizers). Future ambitions/plans include building their own dry mill, which has started construction. This has been financed by the brothers themselves from profits from their coffee production these past few harvests.
Beneficio Name: Don Oscar
Farms: The family own 16 plantations that contribute to the total production at Don Oscar
Closest town: Canet de San Marcos Municipality: San Marcos Region: Tarrazu
Total Farm Area (ha): 50, over 16 plantations/farms
Approximate number of trees planted per hectare: 3500-4000
Soil composition: volcanic, sandy & clay
Harvest season: January – March
Harvest peak: February
Approx. annual production (x 69kg bags): 1500-2000
Varieties: 80% catuaí, 5% villalobos, 10% catimor, 5% caturra. Currently planting other ‘exotic’ varieties (e.g. Gesha, typica).
Process: fully washed and honeys, no naturals
- once coffee is picked, it stays in the bags overnight and is processed in the morning
- cherries are not immediately delivered to the beneficio because the microclimate of the farms are cooler than the temperature in the tanks
- fully washed coffees spend, on average, 5 days drying on the patio during non-peak harvest. During peak-harvest, coffee spends, on average, 3 days on the patio and are finished by drying in the guardiola for 2 days.
- honeys are dried on the patio for an average of 12 days
Other crops grown: banana, plantains, oranges, avocado – all family’s own consumption
Percentage of income coming from coffee production: 100%
Number of people employed at farm: 60 pickers (employed 3 months of the year; 2 temporary workers at the beneficio; 5 permanent staff
Pickers’ wage: 1200 CRC/cujuelo (13kg bucket) = approx. USD $2.15/cujuelo. Minimum wage is $1/cujuelo.
Don Oscar is a relatively new relationship for CCS. We started working with the brothers during the 2015/2016 harvest and are looking forward to a good future working with them. We admire that the brothers are ambitious, as well as have a long family tradition of producing coffee. It is no easy feat overseeing 16 plantations, a beneficio and soon a dry mill!
Background to Exclusive Coffees
Established in 2008 by Francisco Mena and Juan Ramon Alvarado, Exclusive Coffees fully embraced and have been prominent actors in Costa Rica’s «micromill revolution»: a phenomenon unique to this coffee producing country, wherein small holder coffee farmers have empowered themselves to construct and manage a larger portion of the coffee production chain through the processing of their coffees. In many other coffee producing countries, the term «coffee producer» is largely referring to the cultivation and picking of coffee plants only. And as with any other production chain, those who control the means of production are the most empowered. Costa Rican coffee producers are therefore amongst the most empowered within the world of coffee.
Exclusive quickly identified three coffee growing regions as having the best potential for producing the highest quality coffee due to altitude, climate and soil conditions: Central and West Valleys & Tarrazu. The top altitudes of this area of their volcanic mountain range reach up to 2000 meters above sea level and receive winds from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which combined with the altitudes and volcanic soils, combine to create unique and excellent coffee growing conditions. Between the years of 2005-2016, the country increased from 10 to 150 micromills. Exclusive works with ±80 of these beneficios. The farms delivering cherries to these beneficios either come from the family running the beneficio, or from neighbours to the beneficio. It seems like everyone’s goal, if they don’t already have their own beneficio, is to construct their own.
In addition to controlling coffee production, Exclusive associated farms and beneficios adhere to a so-called «new school» of coffee farming, which emphasizes analyzing soil composition and plant tissue to target the right combination of minerals going into soil inputs. This is all in addition to the processing and cultivar experiments – all undergone with the view to target the best factors.