When we found this farm for the very first time all the way back in 2013 we knew very little about it, so little in fact that the coffee didn't even have an official name! Back then all we knew was that the coffee was grown by a gentleman called Carlos Arrieta and it was really, really delicious! However since then I've been lucky enough to visit Carlos on my trips to Costa Rica and, over the past few years, have found out lots more.
I first got to meet Carlos at our exporter's office on the last day of my visit to Costa Rica in 2013. He arrived around ten minutes after I had cupped the first table of coffees, where I had found one lot that was making me feel al little weak at the knees - it just had to be his coffee.
Here ensued the worst pricing negotiation to ever take place in the history of coffee buying ...
"How much do you want?" I asked. He replies, "How much do you like it?" "A lot,” I say. "I'd like a lot then, please," Carlos says. "OK ... "
Thankfully for me at this point a grown-up from the exporter's office stepped in and made sure I didn't give Carlos my house, car, laptop, beer fridge and pension plan. We agreed a price that rewarded Carlos with more than he had ever got before and left me with a home to return to in Stafford.
Fast forward to 2015 and this was the first year I got to spend some time with Carlos and his family. I stopped for some lunch, hung out, asked lots of questions and did my best to find out more about this slightly mystery super tasty coffee producer, his family and his farm.
First of all there's the mill, which is called ARBAR and is very close to the house. It has drying tables and a small nursery, but it didn't have a deplulper (more about this later). The mill was brand new, and before it existed they would just sell their coffee to the local coop and so have no interaction with the coffee.
Then I found out that they actually own two small farms; this coffee is from Finca Manatial, which was a new farm to us in 2014 but is now back for yet another delicious year. The farm is located in the Western Valley region near to the town of Lourdes de Naranjo. It's located at 1,600 meters above sea level and contains mostly Caturra, Catuai + a tiny bit of Villa Sarchi, there are also plans to plant some small micro lots too in the future. The farm produces between 700 - 1,400kg a year.
Carlos runs the farm with his wife and children, Maria Isabel, Yesica, Karen, Stephen and Jose Ignacio. He has owned this farm for sixteen years but only started processing the coffee himself in 2014 (while still paying someone else to pulp it for him). He hadn't been able to present his coffee to a single buyer previously, so he would send it to the exporter we use in Costa Rica and, thankfully, that's how we found him!
You may remember that a few years ago the coffee was priced a little differently; our normal, nicely rounded-down price was not there. The coffee should have been sold for £7.50 (we negotiated a small price drop from the previous year because we bought everything from both farms, and this worked out that there were some economies of scale compared to the £10.00 of 2013), but we charged £7.88. Well, this was so that we (by “we” I mean “you”) could buy Carlos and his family a depulper for his next harvest. This meant he didn’t have to pay someone else to pulp his coffee, and he could gain more control of his amazing coffee.
I lent the money to Carlos, because I promised you would pay it back (and you did!). You can go and see what your generosity bought at the blog post here.
In 2016 our Head Roaster Roland travelled to Costa Rica to be on the jury for their Cup of Excellence competition. If you ever wondered what a coffee roaster from the UK would get up to if let loose in Costa Rica, you should have a read about his trip in Roland Glew's Costa Rican Adventure.
In the cup expect to be refreshed. It kicks off with honeydew melon and watermelon, with a squeeze of lime juice over the top. Throw into that a shoulder of pomegranate and an elbow of lemongrass before it gets to a sweet fruit finish and aftertaste. Super complex and delicious.
- Country: Costa Rica
- Region: Western Valley
- Town: Lourdes de Naranjo
- Farm: Finca Manantial
- Farmer: Carlos Arrieta
- Micro mill: ARBAR
- Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
- Varietals: Caturra & Catuai
- Processing system: Red Honey
Cupping notes: Honeydew melon, watermelon, lime juice, pomegranate, lemongrass.
- Clean cup: (1–8): 7
- Sweetness: (1–8): 7
- Acidity: (1–8): 7
- Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
- Flavour: (1–8): 7.5
- Aftertaste: (1–8): 6.5
- Balance: (1–8): 6.5
- Overall: (1–8): 7.5
Total: (max. 100): 91
Roasting Information: Medium - through first crack and let it develop a bit in the gap, but don't let this get into second crack.
"Quick Look" Guide: Honeydew melon, watermelon, lime juice, pomegranate, lemongrass.