When we found this farm for the very first time all the way back in 2013 we knew very little about it, so little in fact that the coffee didn't even have an official name! Back then all we knew was that the coffee was grown by a gentleman called Carlos Arrieta and it was really, really delicious! However since then I've been lucky enough to visit Carlos on my trips to Costa Rica and, over the past few years, have found out lots more.
I first got to meet Carlos at our exporter's office on the last day of my visit to Costa Rica in 2013. He arrived around ten minutes after I had cupped the first table of coffees, where I had found one lot that was making me feel al little weak at the knees - it just had to be his coffee.
Here ensued the worst pricing negotiation to ever take place in the history of coffee buying ...
"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.
"OK ... "
Thankfully for me at this point a grown-up from the exporter's office stepped in and made sure I didn't give Carlos my house, car, laptop, beer fridge and pension plan. We agreed a price that rewarded Carlos with more than he had ever got before and left me with a home to return to in Stafford.
Fast forward to 2015 and this was the first year I got to spend some time with Carlos and his family. I stopped for some lunch, hung out, asked lots of questions and did my best to find out more about this slightly mystery super tasty coffee producer, his family and his farm.
First of all there's the mill, which is called ARBAR and is very close to the house. It has drying tables and a small nursery, but it didn't have a deplulper (more about this later). The mill was brand new, and before it existed they would just sell their coffee to the local coop and so have no interaction with the coffee.
Then I found out that they actually own two small farms; El Oasis and Finca Manatial - this lot is a combination of small amounts of Villa Sarchi grown on both of them and then put together into 1 ARBAR Villa Sarchi lot. Each individual farm does not produce enough Villa Sarchi to separate out into sensibly sized lots, thus the combining of farms here. This is our first year of having any Villa Sarchi from ARBAR and it's wonderful to finally get to share it with you, we're hoping that over the next few years we might get to see individual farm lots of this varietal too!
Finca Manatial and El Oasis are located in the Western Valley region near to the town of Lourdes de Naranjo, both sit at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level and grow mostly Caturra, Catuai + these tiny amounts of Villa Sarchi.
Carlos runs things with his wife and children, Maria Isabel, Yesica, Karen, Stephen and Jose Ignacio. He has owned this farm for sixteen years but only started processing the coffee himself in 2014 (while still paying someone else to pulp it for him). He hadn't been able to present his coffee to a single buyer previously, so he would send it to the exporter we use in Costa Rica and, thankfully, that's how we found him!
You may remember that a few years ago the coffee was priced a little differently; our normal, nicely rounded-down price was not there. The coffee should have been sold for £7.50 (we negotiated a small price drop from the previous year because we bought everything from both farms, and this worked out that there were some economies of scale compared to the £10.00 of 2013), but we charged £7.88. Well, this was so that we (by “we” I mean “you”) could buy Carlos and his family a depulper for his next harvest. This meant he didn’t have to pay someone else to pulp his coffee, and he could gain more control of his amazing coffee.
I lent the money to Carlos, because I promised you would pay it back (and you did!). You can go and see what your generosity bought at the blog post here.
In 2016 our Head Roaster Roland travelled to Costa Rica to be on the jury for their Cup of Excellence competition. If you ever wondered what a coffee roaster from the UK would get up to if let loose in Costa Rica, you should have a read about his trip in Roland Glew's Costa Rican Adventure.
In the cup this is fresh peaches with honey all over them. It's sticky but also clean, and you get a little kick of mango too. In the aftertaste, the fruit sweetness slips away and milk chocolate fills your mouth.
- Country: Costa Rica
- Region: Western Valley
- Town: Lourdes de Naranjo
- Farm: Finca Manantial & El Oasis
- Farmer: Carlos Arrieta
- Micro mill: ARBAR
- Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
- Varietals: Villa Sarchi
- Processing system: Red Honey
Cupping notes: Peach, honey, mango, milk chocolate.
- Clean cup: (1-8): 6.5
- Sweetness: (1-8): 8
- Acidity: (1-8): 7
- Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6.5
- Flavour: (1-8): 7
- Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
- Balance: (1-8): 6
- Overall: (1-8): 7
- Correction: (+36): +36
- Total: (max. 100): 90
Medium - through first crack then take the heat out, let it develop and do not let it get to second crack!
What makes this coffee of the month? Well I think it's tasting amazing right now and I just want to share it with people to be totally honest! And to help encourage that I'm offering a 20% discount code! Just type "COTM" into the discount code box + click apply.
Click on the following link to place your order...