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Costa Rica Coffee Los Altos de Naranjo y El Rincon, Alajuela

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The Coffee:
This complex and creamy cup has a nice body with just enough acidity. Hinting of lemon, bananas, vanilla, and chocolate, it makes for a smooth and balanced cup.

Quick Facts:
Region: Alajuela
Country: Costa Rica
Producer: Thomas Suarez
Elevation: 1,200m
Cupping score: 85 points.
(This coffee is Fair Trade Certified.)

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The Region: Alajuela
Bordering Nicaragua to the north, the province of Alajuela is situated in Costa Rica’s beautiful central plains, said to be “the best climate in the world” and attracting thousands of national and international visitors each year. Although this region used to be isolated from the rest of the country, recent improvements in infrastructure and a network of roadways have allowed a thriving agricultural economy to grow.

The climate in Alajuela is typical of a cloud forest environment: warm, wet, and covered in dense vegetation. Combined with an excellent elevation of approximately 1,200 meters, this makes for perfect conditions that have made Alajuela renowned for being one of country’s richest coffee growing regions.

The province of Alajuela houses the city of Alajuela: the country’s second largest city after it’s capital, San José. The city’s biggest claim to fame is as Juan Santamaria’s hometown, a national hero who gave up his life in battle against the United States’ William Walker. A nearby volcano, located in the Parque Nacional Volcán Poás, also draws masses of tourists to the region.

I love the Central Market in downtown Alajuela. Its an old building but with a lot of character. And the people are so friendly. And you cant miss trying a tamale. I really enjoyed mine.

The Coffee Producer: Thomas Suarez
Now a successful farmer himself, Thomas Suarez comes from a humble coffee-growing tradition. For much of his life, Thomas worked on his family’s small coffee farm and has spent the past 35 years in this line of work. Although he wanted to attend college when he was younger, he was unable to do so due to difficult economic circumstances. Instead, he inherited his father’s coffee farm in Altos de Naranjo y El Rincon, and over the years has managed to turn coffee into his livelihood. Thomas has three daughters and two sons who he is able to support through this coffee production.

Thomas belongs to CoopeAtenas, a local cooperative with around 1,200 members. The cooperative includes a total of 2000 hectares dedicated to the production of coffee alongside other economic activity such as rural tourism, raising livestock, and citrus production. As a currently elected “Delegado,” Thomas helps to manage the cooperative and is also involved in training younger farmers who are just beginning their endeavors. He also uses the CoopeAtenas cupping lab to cup his coffee.

The family farm is about 20 hectares (or 44 acres) in size, and produces Caturra (50%) and Catuai (50%) varietals. The beans are processed using the wet/washed method and are sun-dried on raised wooden tables (known as camas africanas or "african beds"), or by mechanical dryers when there is not sufficient sunlight.