Our Costa Rican coffee is a reserve bean from Santa Elena Estate, a farm in the Tarrazu region owned by Luz Marina Trujillo (Dave’s sister-in-law). It’s a superb coffee and a staple in many of our blends.
Trujillo says that the complex flavors in the coffee are “characters” from Mother Nature, enhanced by Santa Elena’s ideal location. To maximize these elements and keep the coffee tradition alive for future generations, the farm uses sustainable practices for coffee growing, such as composting, weed control with machetes instead of chemicals, and making sure the river stays clean. Trujillo is very proud of the large worm beds, which help create plenty of rich compost. At 5,000 feet altitude, Santa Elena enjoys plenty of shade, volcanic limestone soil, and a good mix of light rain, sunny days and cool nights – ideal coffee growing conditions.
The farm community is a great environment as well – the workers are paid a premium and treated like family. At any time, there could be between 450-700 pickers on the 2500-acre farm, many of which have living quarters there. Dave remembers everyone being friendly, hospitable, and above all, happy while working.
The process is labor intensive; there are no shortcuts taken at Santa Elena. The workers pick only ripe cherries, rotating between the trees during the harvest season, November through February. The pulp (red outer skin) is removed, and the beans are bathed for up to two days, then washed and either patio dried outside or in wood fire dryers.
The beans are graded for size, weight and color, and we purchase the highest quality available – you can see “SHB EP” (Strictly Hard Bean, European Preparation) stenciled onto the Costa Rican burlap bags stacked here at the plant. This means that the coffee was grown at a high altitude (which produces a denser, richer bean), and the raw beans were sorted by hand.
Dave and Joan have visited Santa Elena multiple times – most recently, in 2015 when Dave broke his leg and the farm tour was cut short. On an earlier visit in 2003 however, Dave brought back a few coffee cherries to be planted back at home. One of these trees has grown surprisingly well in our front office, and we have made an annual tradition of harvesting these cherries and planting 30+ new Costa Rican coffee trees, which we send home with our awesome customers.
The full, rich flavor of our Costa Rican coffee is due to the care taken in every step of the process, from farm to cup.
You'll know the difference when you taste fresh roasted, great quality coffee. Curious to know more or try it for yourself? Stop by the plant or click here to shop online.
Wishing you a great summer weekend with lots of good coffee!
-the Vista Clara Team
Freshly roasted coffee isn't just a product we offer. It's an experience we want to share with you. And with every great experience, there comes a story. This is our story and we invite you to be a part of it.