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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 we didn't even know the official name for the coffee!
Back then all we knew was that the coffee was grown by a gentleman called Carlos Arrieta, and that it was really, really delicious.
Since then I've been lucky enough to visit Carlos on my trips to Costa Rica and, over the past few years, I've found out lots more.
The farm is located in the Western Valley region near to the town of Lourdes de Naranjo. It's located at 1,600 metres above sea level. It contains mostly Caturra, and Catuai varietals, but also has a tiny bit of Villa Sarchi. There are plans to plant some small micro-lots in the future too.
El Oasis is one of Carlos's four farms:
La Casa – mostly planted with Geisha and Kenya varietals.
La Isla -– not in production yet.
El Oasis– slightly smaller than El Manantial. Produces around 6,000 KG of fresh cherries each year.
El Manantial– around three hectares in size. Produces around 8,500 KG of fresh cherries each year (which amounts to just over 1,000 KG of green coffee when processed).
Carlos runs the farm with his wife, Marie Isabel, and their children, Yessica, Karen, Esteban and Jose Ignacio. He has owned this farm for almost twenty years, but he 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. Thankfully, that's how we found him!
The mill name "ARBAR" comes from the combined family names: Carlos ARietta and Maria BARboza. So, ARBAR.
Carlos is very active in the local community and the family have close relationships with their neighbours, which include Cup of Excellence winning mills like Herbazu, Vista Al Valle and Sumava.
They operate mostly Organic processes, but aren’t Organic certified. They believe in the value of biodiversity on the farms, and plants like fruit trees are positioned among the coffee plants for shade and to help the soil. These trees also provide food for the family. They have one full-time employee who lives on the farm.
Their latest project is La Isla. This small plot of land belongs to Maria’s niece. Carlos and Maria have an arrangement with her under which they will plant and farm the plot, and then share the profits with her; that farm is still very early in its production life.
Activity from the Poás volcano at the start of 2019 has impacted the Western Valley region, and really quite badly so in some areas. Although ARBAR appears to have been lucky in this regard, we won’t know the final impact until next year's crop.
Who's been putting sugar in my coffee?? It must be the Arrieta family again! Think of a tin of peachslices in lightsyrup. As it cools a little, that sweetness just grows and grows alongside a velvetytexture that reminds me of a MilkyWay.