February 2015 - Carlos Arietta: Finca El Manatial

2015 is the second year of us having coffee from Finca El Manatial, and piece by piece we are finding out more about the farm. When we first found it last year we had very little information on the farm; so much so it didn’t even have a name!

This year during my visit to the farm I got to find out lots more and also build a stronger relationship going forwards. Let me tell you what I know so far...

I first got to meet Carlos at the exporter's office on the last day of my time in Costa Rica last year. He arrived around 10 minutes after I had cupped the first table of coffees, where I had found one lot that was making me sing. It just had to be his coffee.

Here ensued the worst negotiation for buying coffee ever to take place.

"How much do you want?" I asked.
He replies, "How much do you like it?"
"A lot” I say.
"I'd like a lot then please" Carlos says.

Luckily at this point a grown up from the exporter's office stepped in and made sure I didn't give Carlos my house, my car, and my pension plan. We agreed a price that rewarded Carlos more than he had ever gotten before and left me with a home to return to.

Back then this coffee was just called Carlos Arietta, as that was all we knew about it.

This year on my return visit I got to spend some time with the family; I stopped for some lunch, hung out, and asked lots of questions. First of all there's the mill, which is called Arbar and is very close to the house; here they have drying tables and a small nursery. They don't have a deplulper, but more about this later. The mill is new; before they would just sell their coffee to the local coop and have no interaction with the coffee.

Then I found out that they own two small farms; this coffee is from the farm El Manatial, which is a new farm to us. The farm is located in the Western Valley region neat to the town of Lourdes De Naranjo. It's located at 1,600 meters above sea level. It contains mostly Caturra, Catuai, and with a tiny bit of Villa Sarchi. There are plans to plant some small micro lots too in the future. It produces between 700-1,400kg a year.

Carlos runs the farm with his wife and his children, Maria, Isabel, Yesica, Karen, Stephen, and Jose Ignacio. He has owned this farm for 15 years but has just this year, for the first time, processed the coffee himself (paying someone to pulp it for him). He has never been able to present his coffee to a buyer before, so previously he sent it to the exporter we use in Costa Rica.

You may notice that this coffee is priced differently. Our normal nicely rounded-down prices are not there. This year's coffee should sell for £7.50 (we negotiated a small price drop this year as we bought everything from both farms, and this works out that there are some economies of scale compared to the £10.00 of last year), but we're charging £7.88. Well, this is so we (by “we” I mean “you”) can buy Carlos and his family a depulper for next year's harvest. This will mean he doesn’t have to pay someone to pulp his coffee, and he can get more and more control of his amazing coffee.

You can go and see what your generosity has bought as I lent the money to Carlos as I promised you would pay it back at the blog post here (I hope you're good for it)!

  • Farm: El Manatial
  • Micro Mill: Arbar
  • Farmer: Carlos Arietta
  • City: Lourdes De Naranjo
  • Region: Western Valley
  • Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.

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