Costa Rica Trip Highlights & Recap

I am very please to report that we have made some new coffee friends in the Chirripó region of Costa Rica.  Our time with the Ureña family was a joy and I believe it is the beginning of a long relationship that will be full of many visits and really tasty coffees!

After nearly missing our connecting flight in Atlanta, and a 5 hour car ride once we landed, we were at Café Rivense de Chirripó

Regulo Ureña Brewing Morning Coffee

The family is led by Regulo and Isabella Ureña.  They have 4 sons between the ages of 21 - 30 (Ricardo, Mario, Esteban & Luis) and a teenage daughter named Tatiana.  They are a lively bunch, with the eldest three sons working the coffee farms and processing with their father.  

Up until about 10 years ago, Regulo farmed coffee the way folks in this part of the world always did it.  He harvested cherries, sold them to the mill and took what money he could get.  His university educated sons saw the coffee world beginning to change and that there was potential to change all of that. 

A New Beginning
They convinced their father to pursue an exportation license and to build their own wet and dry mill, which would allow for them to be in complete control of the entire process from nursery to exportation.  This meant they could begin experimenting with new methods of processing (honeys, natural and anaerobic fermentations) and then find their own buyers around the globe. 

Jeff From Giv CoffeeDavid Cupping Coffee
After entering some coffees in national competitions and doing well the buyers began to emerge.  First in was Blue Bottle in San Fransisco.  (The wooden placard with the Ureña family name on it from one of the Blue Bottle shops proudly hangs on their refrigerator today.). Not long after that, more reputable US roasters.  Then the Taiwanese came, asking for more far out flavor profiles and processing methods.  Success there drew others from the Far East, and not long after that, roasters from Northern Europeans and the Middle East.

At this point they can almost create whatever flavor profile they desire and then find a buyer for it.  The demand is there and the quality of the coffee speaks for itself.  

The Fincas
As we toured the two existing farms - Chirripó and Reniser - it was clear that they love experimenting.  Geshas and unique varieties like Casiopea, Wush-Wush and Blue Mountain were everywhere, mixed in with classics like Red Catuai and Typica.  Land for a third farm was recently purchased from a distant relative and we got to see traverse the freshly cut road up to where they plan to begin terracing and planting this year. 

Honeys Drying on Raised BedsGesha Trees Flowering
Near the house their dry mill is full of activity.  They ONLY do honeys, natural and special fermentations on their coffees.  No traditional washed coffees.  I have never seen this before and it is very intriguing to me.  They recently purchased some new milling equipment (density sorter, optical sorter, etc to the tune of $120K) so that they could further increase quality and streamline their processes.  The future seems bright for this special family. 

Bits and Bobs
David had an absolutely fantastic time!  It was really wonderful to take him on his first out of country coffee adventure.  He loved the family and loved popping ripe coffee cherries into his mouth at every turn.  

I was reminded how much more developed Costa Rica is than its neighboring countries.  I had not been in 11 years and I'm kind of kicking myself.  For crying out loud, I drank the tap water and never got sick.  That is a first for me.  From the roads to the education system, to the budding retail coffee scene and the restaurants, everything was amazing.  I'm stoked to return. 

Coffees Coming Your Way
We have selected 6 different coffees to bring in their year.  You can expect to see the first micro lots showing up sometime late Summer or early Fall.  We will have one slated for Coffee of the Month sometime this year as well as perhaps one or two making their way into the Limited Release box line-up.