Learning about the history, culture and community that is woven into the fabric of everyone’s lives in the area had me feeling connected to the process in a new and deeper way. That is putting it lightly. Of all the amazing “micro lot” coffees (very high standard, individual lots) we were able to taste and assess, we chose to source our coffee from the El Cidral lot, a farm way up at 1900 meters of elevation that produced trees heavy with very consistently ripe, deeply colored cherries. In theory the stress of higher elevation yields a coffee with higher sugar content, sweet and balanced once processed. In the end we chose it blindly through tastings and found it to lend a wonderful balance of fruit and cherry, chocolate and nuttiness and a sublime aroma. It will be labeled under Intelligentsia’s mark Flecha Roja, which hearkens back to a tradition of coffee mills at origin creating different marks, or brands for the different coffees produced and groups of farmers they work with.
We were fortunate enough to take our coffee sourcing relationship to the next level by visiting Santa Maria de Dota in Costa Rica. Home to an amazing local cooperative, Coopedota, that receives coffee cherries from around 850 farms throughout the valley. It was truly an amazing sight to behold and our host Roberto Mata has been involved with the co-op for decades. We were able travel throughout the valley and see several farms, meeting farmers and coffee harvesters along the way. The terrain is beautiful and rugged, covered in sustainably grown and managed coffee farms.