We’ve been buying from Allan Oviedo Rodriguez and his family for over six years and enjoy coffee from both their two farms, Finca La Cumbre and Finca Carmela. They also have the Don Joel micromill which services the processing needs of both farms (along with occasional small lots for their neighbours when there's space, because they've got a good reputation for it).
Finca La Cumbre is near the city of San Luis de Grecia and grows mainly Caturra, Catuai and Villa Sarchi as well as some smaller crops like Maragogype. It's in the Alajuela province of the rather famous-for-coffee Western Valley of Costa Rica. Situated around 1,600 metres above sea level. Allan inherited this farm when his father, Don Joel, passed away and in the early days worked as a taxi driver at night while managing the farm during the day just to make ends meet - it was always his dream to own the farm!
Finca Carmela is a three hectare farm that's planted mostly with Villa Sarchi and some Typica as well as some smaller plantings like Kenia. Situated around 1,600 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.), it's only five minutes' drive from La Cumbre but is on the opposite edge of the hill.
Despite the very short distance between the two farms, they exhibit interestingly different microclimates that impact the way that the coffee thrives. For example, rain may reach one side of the mountain but not the other, and strong winds can damage one whilst the other is sheltered. These factors may seem small, but they can make a big difference in terms of when the coffee plant goes into flower and how much sun it gets, whether plants get damaged, and so on. This all adds up.
Allan has been producing coffee in the area for eighteen years; he grew up in a coffee family and learnt the traditional producing methods alongside his father (Don Joel) and brothers. It was during these early years that he saw the difficulties that came with making a living as a coffee farmer, such as poor returns for what is a very demanding job, and the ever-increasing cost of living.
When Allan inherited La Cumbre (the larger family farm was divided between him and his brothers when Don Joel passed away), he decided to implement changes to improve their lot. During his early years of owning the farm, he used to work as a taxi driver in San Jose by night and managed the farm by day to make ends meet. But it was his dream to own the farm, and he was ardently focused on giving his family that security.
Of the people we work with, Allan is situated the closest to Poás Volcano - only seven kilometres away and you can see it from La Cumbre. He worked incredibly hard building up the farm, taking on Carmela and expanding La Cumbre, then Poás spewed ash over the area in 2019 leaving all of his plants covered. Finca Carmela was also impacted by the 2019 El Niño, where global warming reinforced the dry season patterns from January to April and reduced rainfall during the rainy season in from June to December.
All these environmental changes made a difficult period for production in Costa Rica, but we're pleased to report it’s much more positive now and Allan has managed to harvest another great crop from Finca Carmela.