It's all about the people, relationships are important! You don't need to travel to origin to buy coffee, but the value of maintaining relationships with producers and exporters is not something that can be done solely over the internet. We're proud to work with and support amazing specialty coffee from Costa Rica.
Relationships are important
You don't need to travel to origin to buy coffee. Our exporting partners do fantastic jobs of sending us samples so we can make buying decisions in the comfort of our own roastery. But what you can't courier across the world is time with the people who produce your coffee to share stories, information, ideas, and good times. You'd be amazed at the importance of conversations that happen on a long drive or over a beer.
Our Green Buyer Roland Glew and eCommerce Manager Chris Glover-Price recently travelled to Costa Rica to visit our exporting partners (and legends of Costa Rican specialty coffee) Exclusive Coffees and a number of key relationships whose names you'll likely be familiar with.
As it was his first trip to a coffee producing country, we asked Chris to write a brief summary we could share as a little peek into the world of Hasbean origin travel.
Cupping at Exclusive Coffees
Exclusive Coffees are our exporting partner in Costa Rica and play a huge role in helping us maintain our relationships, find new ones when we need them and, perhaps most importantly, ship us coffee!
We spent time at their headquarters chatting with the team and cupping pre-shipment samples of coffees we're really looking forward to sharing with you in 2023 - look out for some really delicious Kenyas.
Visit to Co-op Atenas
In the afternoon we travelled about 90 minutes to Co-op Atenas who are a new relationship for us - we're looking to them for some great quality larger lots we can use in our house blends and were really impressed by what we saw both in terms of their coffee production and the work they do in/around the community of Atenas.
If you've been a Hasbean customer for even just a few years then you've almost certainly tried a coffee from Don Mayo - we've been buying their coffee since 2011 and the Bonilla family continue to produce fantastic quality coffee. We were treated to a tour in the back of a pickup truck of a beautiful new farm they're planting, Finca San Francisco, really hope we can get some coffee from it when it starts producing in the next few years.
Granitos de Altura del Ortíz
A another new relationship for us and one Roland is particularly happy about, he's known about Granitos and enjoyed their coffee for a while and this is the first year we've been able to get any. The mill is managed and run by two sisters Joyce and Johanna (who's just had a baby) while their Dad Omar manages the farms. It's a rare thing in Costa Rica for two sisters to be running things like this and we couldn't be happier to now be supporting Granitos and sharing their coffee with you this year.
The first day of a two-day trip to the Western Valley (around 50km from our base in north-western San José), a real delight to visit two huge relationships for Hasbean who are very close to each other.
We've been enjoying coffee from Allan Oviedo's Don Joel micromill since 2014, he has two farms, La Cumbre and Carmela, which we got to look around as well as his brand new (still shiny!) micromill. Two big highlights were riding on the back of Allan's tractor with a trailer full of freshly picked coffee and then helping unload and measure said harvest into the mill, using the standardised fanega box. We were also very fortunate to be invited to enjoy a home cooked lunch with Allan and his family at their home, such a lovely and kind way to finish our visit.
Only a short drive away up Route 709 (a road lined with farms and mills!) we reached Beneficio de Café ARBAR, the home of Carlos Arrieta and his family. We buy nearly every single bean that ARBAR produces and to visit offers a fantastic opportunity for both us and the Arrieta's to catch up, talk coffee and, together, help shape the direction things are going in. We toured the farms, had another ride in a tractor, Roland had a go at coffee picking and shared coffee together as the sun went down. As we were staying nearby we also got to share a few beers with Esteban and Jose Ignacio (Nacho) talking about coffee processing (Esteban works at the nearby Sumava!) before having dinner together with the family - an amazing and unforgettable experience.
We were very kindly invited back to ARBAR the following morning for breakfast with the family but before we could tuck into a delicious and traditional Costa Rican meal, Carlos and Nacho had saved some of their processing from the previous day's harvest (normally done the evening of picking) to show us how they do things. Such tiny small-scale coffee processing and fantastic to see, very proud to be supporting the fantastic quality focussed work Carlos and his family are doing.
Sumava de Lourdes
Only maybe 5-10 minutes up the road was our final visit of the trip, Francisco Mena's Sumava de Lourdes. If you've ever imagined what a coffee farm looks like, Francisco has captured exactly that and created a picture perfect coffee farm. Multiple tree-lined plots split the farm into areas dedicated to each coffee variety. Sumava is a beautiful farm and we were treated to a tour of the various plots with Esteban Arrieta, where we saw coffee being picked and measured into a truck by the cajula and then delivered to their mill.
DAY 5Cupping at Exclusive Coffees with Carlos and Nacho
Back to Exclusive HQ for another day of cupping and a wonderful opportunity to taste fresh harvest coffees from ARBAR with Carlos and Nacho. Getting to slurp coffees with the producers who grew them is an incredible honour made all the more amazing by the deliciousness of the lots ARBAR are producing. It's great to see Nacho getting more involved with the cupping and tasting side of coffee production while his brother Esteban's currently learning more about the processing side, the future of ARBAR is looking very bright indeed!
Another name those of you who've been with us for a little while will know, what a treat to visit the Aguilera family with whom we've been working since 2007! We got to see their mill in action as well as visiting their farms (again in the back of a pickup truck!), there are some stunning views on Finca Licho and the Villa Sarchi was looking very happy in the Costa Rican summer sunshine. While the Aguileras mostly grow Villa Sarchi and Bourbon, we also saw some of their other exciting varieties SL28, Geisha, Pacamara and Sidra - maybe we can get our hands on some, we're certainly going to try.
An amazing trip getting to spend time with lovely people, we're hoping for our fresh crop Costa Rican coffees to set sail from CR in March/April so they should arrive with us by early summer - can't wait to share them with you all!