Costa Rica – Monterrey, Tarrazu
Monterrey Community is a group of 25 smallholder coffee producers who collectively produce just 10 x 69kg sacks of speciality grade coffee each year. The community is part of a programme developed by Fairtrade certified Coope Tarrazu (Tarrazu Cooperative) which focuses on lot separation giving individual community profiles a chance to shine, rather than being bulked together into a single product. The project has real benefits for cooperative members, helping farmers to understand how their coffee is appreciated by consumers and motivating quality improvements. The premium received for these speciality beans goes directly to the community who decide how it will be spent. So far premiums have been spent on infrastructure improvements but there are plans to invest in education and agricultural improvement too.
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. This 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.