The Central Valley is under the Atlantic Ocean influence and for that reason quite a wet region in Costa Rica. This is the original place where coffee has been produced in the country. We have been buying Las Lajas coffee for 2 years now and we are happy to support them again.
The Chacón family is composed by 6 brothers having each 1 farm with a total of 60 ha of coffee plantation. Oscar and his wife Francisca are the ones running the mill. They do everything including dry mill and green sorting. Bags are then collected from the mill to be consolidated/exported
The mill and farms are located in the town of Sabanilla de Alajuela, on the Poas volcano slope. The altitude is 1,300 masl for the mill and from 1,450 to 1,500 masl for the farms. The harvest here runs mainly from Dec to Jan with very little to be processed in Feb.
Their process is focused on very high quality and as a result of that very labor intensive and costly. 80 pickers and 20 people at the mill are working with the Chacóns in the peak of the season. They pay very high price per cajuela (12 kg of cherries) picked.
Some of their farms are organic certified which is quite rare in Costa Rica. They use the pulp from the mill to make compost.
They innovate a lot every year and they now have 10 different varieties in their farms: Caturra, Red and Yellow Catuai, Paraiso (Sarchimore and Catuai), Milemium, Villa Sarchi, Geisha and others.
The mill produces about 1,500 exportable bags per year. However, this year will be lower because of the heavy rains at early stages of flowering. They used Penagos to float all coffees before any process.
The honeys are dried on beds in the sun for a couple of days. They are moved depending on the honey colour desired and with a more or less thick layers for the same reasons. The longer the drying takes, the darker the honey will be. The Black honey for example is not moved at all for the first 2 days after pulping.
As they move coffee on patios, they flip the crust formed rather than create rows with a rake. They found out it makes it more consistent as a lot. With their process they manage to use only 1 cube meter of water a day that they rest in a pond for a day to clean it before releasing it in the land.