Farm info

The Ureña family is a well-known family in the town of Palmichal and are some of the premier coffee growers in the area. For many decades, the family has delivered coffee to the Palmichal mill. Different family members have managed the farm at different points in time, and today Paúl Cascante Ureña manages two plots: 6.5 hectares at 1450 meter above sea level and 4 hectares at 1650 meters. The coffee trees he tends were planted around the time he was born thirty years ago. He remembers growing up on the farm and wanting to continue to spend time there.

With a degree in agronomy, he can both spend time on the farm and make it a profitable business. His knowledge of coffee cultivation allows him to make decisions for the farm’s future, such as mixing his own fertilizer, selecting optimal varieties for planting, and promoting the farm’s coffee. The coffee is well pruned and nurtured, as evidenced by the dark green leaves and cherry development on the trees. The farm is only a 10-minute drive from the town of Palmichal, but the canopy of thick forest trees makes it feel worlds away. The view from the farm shows the surrounding hillsides planted with coffee.

Paúl enjoys his role as a coffee producer and recognizes that others play different roles in moving his coffee forward through the supply chain. When he delivers coffee to the mill, he is proud of the quality and sustainability of his product. For the 2018-19 harvest, Paúl submitted his harvest from the 4-hectare plot at 1650 meters to the microlot program at Palmichal. The microlot program is designed for farmers with a promising terroir, quality varieties, and a passion for producing specialty coffee. The program has high standards for delivering only rip cherries to the mill. Paúl employs women as pickers because he believes they have better scrutiny in harvesting. The Ureña’s coffee is Honey processed and Paúl has been an excellent participant in the program.

The Palmichal mill is a great example of larger mills becoming part of the solution for economic sustainability for smallholders. It takes a great investment to establish and run a micromill, and it is not feasible for all producers. The Palmichal mill handles large volumes of commercial coffee and chose to install a micromill within the larger conventional mill four years ago. It has a separate hopper, a Penagos demucilager, and a conveyor belt taking coffee to raised drying beds. With this infrastructure and a team of agronomists to with producers to analyze and improve quality, the Palmichal mill has opened the doors to the specialty market for dozens of producers.

This Honey processed lot of Catuai bypassed the demucilager to leave the sweet mucilage in contact with the bean. It was dried on raised beds then finished in the guardiola rotating mechanical dryer for a total of 7-10 days.

Region

Tarrazu

The Tarrazú region lies in the high mountains of the southern Pacific region south of Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose and is one of the most densely planted high altitude regions in Central America, with many farms at or above 2000 meters above sea level. It is locally known as “Zona de Los Santos” for the number of towns with “San” or “Santa” in their names.

Tarrazú’s climate is characterized by two well-defined seasons; a rainy season lasting seven months (May through November) and a dry season (December through April). This encourages uniform coffee blossoming. On average, precipitation is between 2,400 millimeters (94.5 inches) per year, with an average annual temperature of 19°C (66.2°F).

The fertile, volcanic soils and rolling mountainsides of Tarrazu are well-suited for agriculture, and smallholders grow bananas, avocado, and citrus as well as coffee on properties passed between generations. The spirit of community and family is strong in Tarrazu, with prouducers caring for their land with pride. Many farms in Tarrazú include primary forest and some degree of shade trees interspersed with coffee and producers take care to protect the natural water sources that spring up from the mountainsides.