Costa Rica is not the destination one would typically imagine for a business trip. In truth, the tropical climate and general relaxed demeanor of the Ticos made it difficult to remember we were doing serious work here for the week. Renowned for unparalleled beaches and zip line adventures, Costa Rica also possesses some of the most progressive and talented producers of specialty coffee in the world. A rich sprawling topographical landscape across a significant part of the country is home to some of Central America’s best land for coffee cultivation. For our first trip of 2015, we set our sights here:
The main region we focused on during this trip was Tarrazú, a few hours south of the main city of San José. Although we have bought coffees from this region for years, this trip marked some exciting new exploration and discovery. Tarrazú is a region long celebrated for high quality coffee, with no shortage of producers who work tirelessly to deliver coffees exquisite enough to make even the most seasoned buyer weak in the knees.
Tarrazú’s unique location across the continental divide brings warm sunny days and chilly nights to numerous coffee farms across the mountainside. Paired with elevations pushing 2,000 meters above sea level, many of these farms have microclimates ideal for coffee growing. So perfect, in fact, that we began to fantasize about getting away from it all and raising a few thousand Caturra trees with a couple dogs. But we digress…
From Tarrazú, we headed south. Costa Rican coffee lovers may take pause here, certain they haven’t tasted much quality coffee originating from the south. Historically, this is absolutely true. The valley surrounding Costa Rica’s Chirripó Mountain is generally known for coffee lacking criteria important for high quality production. Commercial production has been the main driving force for most farms here. Most, but not all…
Situated at the very tip of the valley, at the highest point before cresting the ridge, is Finca Alaska. Named for the town nearby, Finca Alaska is a meandering and relatively untouched wonderland comprised of a number of small plots managed by five families. The coffee produced in this part of the valley is indicative of the largely untapped quality coffee-growing regions and producers that exist in Costa Rica. For decades, the people here have farmed the land and have cultivated beautiful coffees, often overlooked by specialty buyers.
In 2014, Sightglass was the first specialty roaster to buy coffee from Finca Alaska. We shared some emotional moments once the bond between producer and buyer had, at long last, materialized. We are extremely proud to work with this exceptional group of producers and look forward to a fruitful and meaningful partnership for years to come.
After our visit to Finca Alaska, our short week of travel had come to an end. With just enough time to enjoy a few Imperials and a sunrise boogie-boarding session the following morning, we were on our way home. 2015 will be a year of amazing Costa Rican coffee, and we can’t wait to share them all with you. Look out for some incomparable variety separations and processing differentiations early Summer!