Costa Rica – Monterrey, Tarrazu
Costa Rica is a small country nestled in the heart of Central America. It is probably most famous as a nature retreat for wealthy Americans – favoured for it’s stable government and relative safety compared to it’s Central American neighbours. The stability and forward thinking governance means Costa Rica has a much higher standard of living than its neighbours making it a much more expensive country to visit or do business in. The coffee industry is well regulated by the national body Icafe. Under Icafe’s eye, farm workers are monitored and protected with minimum living standards and widely enforced minimum wages for all employees. The effect of this regulation is that quality has improved as farmers cannot compete on price with neighbouring countries and Costa Rica has become a boutique origin renound for it’s quality and producing value added coffees through experimental processing.
El Cipres belongs to Jesus Mora Camacho, who inherited the farm from his father, who originally purchased the land in 1936. Much of the work on the farm is now managed by Jesus’ 3 sons and 1 daughter. Each family member has their own farm plot and they decide the techniques and varietals grown on their plot. However, the well-being of all the lots is managed collectively throughout the year by the various family members.
Jesus decided early on that he would guard the land as an environmental custodian by protecting large areas of his 15 hectares. Around 20% of his farm has been left to return to native forest. He has replanted areas around streams to protect water quality and inter-cropped his coffee with a diverse range of native trees and fruit, providing a home for birds and other wildlife native to the area.
The family provide housing for seasonal pickers from a native community in Panama. Having a reliable seasonal workforce is critical to the ongoing success of the farm, so Jesus and his family help with the transport costs each year to ensure the pickers and their families arrive when they are needed. While at El Cipres, the workers are free to harvest the fruit from the trees for their own consumption – as Jesus says “the land is for all of us, anybody who is with us may share the benefits of it.”