We sent two of our seasoned baristas, Amanda Ott, and Ashley Cugno, to Costa Rica for a Coffee Origin 101 education with our partner, Cafe Imports. Here is Amanda's personal experience and insight from this trip:
"I really had no idea what to expect going into this trip. I’ve worked on and off in the coffee world for ten years, but it wasn’t until more recently at Evans Brothers that I’ve been exposed to the specialty coffee industry. I studied Global Development and Spanish in college and until this trip I always viewed coffee as a side gig. It was just something to do until I found a real job. That’s not how I feel anymore. Getting to see the coffee industry from producer-exporter-roaster-consumer really opened my eyes to how vast and international the coffee industry is!
During our four days in Costa Rica we visited six coffee farms and The Coffee Institute of Costa Rica, where they focus on research and export quality control. Getting to meet the people and walk around the farms that grow some of my favorite coffee was amazing! In the states it’s easy to feel like we are the center of the coffee industry. But really we are just a small part of it, and arguably the least educated on the topic. These farmers go back generations in producing coffee. They live and breathe it and it is a major influence in their life from childhood. They are a wealth of knowledge, and it was incredible for me to learn how much there is to know about coffee!
A big part of maintaining quality is valuing the traceability of these coffees and the love, care, and work put into them on small farms and micromills. Much of that value is reflected in the price of the beans which creates an incentive to produce the best quality coffee possible. What I would have thought of as an expensive cup or bag of coffee before going to Costa Rica dims in light of the work and care it takes to produce that coffee."
The overwhelming impression I had at every farm we went to was how proud these farmers are of their product. We saw firsthand the spectrum of coffee processing - natural process; black, red and yellow honey process; as well as fully washed coffees. I had my most memorable cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted at the Las Lajas Micromill. It was a Perla Negra natural process SL-28 variety. It tasted like sweet tangerine, well balanced with a bright acidity up front and sweet fruity notes to finish. This led to have an “aha” moment. As much fun as it is to hear people tell me that they love Evans Brothers coffee, it now makes me wonder, “ Whose coffee is this really? Is the Aguilera Brothers’ coffee? Or maybe the Chacon’s coffee from Las Lajas Micromill?” Or maybe it’s from another family in some other part of the world. We are just a step in the process, doing our best to maintain the highest level of quality and showcase how delicious these coffees really are!