This is it!
This is Life Monteverde, (Low Impact For lifE) the organization that I am working with here in Monteverde. The day-to-day activities change but the framework I am working within is pretty strong (ie. how do the seeds get from here to my cup?).
Background: Guillermo (my host and one of the owners of the farm) is a man who has grown up in the coffee community. This farm is actually co-owned and managed by himself and several of his siblings. Those family members/siblings (11 brother/sisters) who are not directly involved in this farm are involved in other aspects of coffee.
The coffee mill where Guillermo´s seeds are sent for processing is operated by family and friends and the coffee lab where quality testing is done is just down the street from his house. There are a lot of family connections here.
The organization´s focus is on fair trade practices, sustainable use of farm land (closing the loop) and developing their use of quality control. I have been investigating the model of fair trade they use and exactly how the seeds move away from the farm. Andy has been working more with the use of sustainable measures taken on the farm (biodigestor and intercrossing).
My role in this process is to do some physical labor (planting various crops, moving wheelbarrow loads of things from here to there, feeding the goats) along with identifying areas where information to the consumer/visitors can become clearer. By understanding how coffee goes from being picked to being exported is how I hope to help visitors understand the process.
How does the coffee move to exportation?
1. Well, the coffee first is picked and sent to the family coffee mill to be processed. Many other farmers in the area use this mill as well. The mill is the central point to the cooperative that Life Monteverde and other local farmers are a part of. At the mill both wet and dry processing of coffee are offered. The coffee that will go through the wet process goes through the depulper at the mill and go through a series of washing processes to begin their new life as a seed. Some of the dry process coffee is laid out to dry at Guillermo´s farm and some is moved to the mill if more space is needed. Here coffee is also sorted for quality control and bagged accordingly.
2. Life Monteverde´s coffee is a brand in and of itself to be sold in café and stores in the region but can also be exported to the US through Montana Coffee Traders. If the coffee is going to be sold in Monteverde, it is sold by Life Monteverde. If the coffee is going international it must be bagged and sent to a separate coffee mill who has a license for exportation. Any mill can have one but it takes some networking and fees to become one.
Icafe is the institute of Costa Rica where all aspects of coffee are represented. It began as an organization to represent growers but has since expanded to cover the processes of regulations of coffee mills and monitors volume and customs to export coffee. Icafe also works with the government to negotiate laws that pertain to coffee being grown domestically. This is the institute that receives the taxes from exportation. Make sense?
Final Product? Both sectors of the process use air roasting for coffee and produce a nice cup of coffee. I will discuss more about the cupping lab in a while and their usage of light, dark roasts along with a natural process as well.