Producer: Ricardo Perez
Region: West Valley, Zarcero
Elevation: 1800 – 1600 MASL
Processing: Red Honey
Cultivars: Caturra, Catuai, Villalobos
Many years ago, like most coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Ricardo Perez was selling his annual harvest to the large regional mill in the West Valley and watching his beautifully farmed Villalobos and Caturra cherries disappear into a sea of anonymous blended coffee. This was the way things worked at that time in Costa Rica: Coffee farmers brought their crop to whatever large mill was closest to their farm, received payment, and then turned around and went back to their farms, never knowing exactly where or how their coffee would end up. While this regionally blended coffee was always considered fairly good, many people suspected that some phenomenal coffees were being lost in the regional mix.
Ricardo knew his coffee was better than most. His farm’s soil, microclimate and altitude were all uniquely favorable for producing dense, sweet and flavorful cherries. Ricardo’s agricultural talents were also well established. He had something special and he was eager to prove it. In 2004, he sought financing for the purchase of some Penagos processing equipment and built a small mill on his farm to begin processing his own coffee. This somewhat revolutionary move turned out to be a game-changer for Ricardo and his family. His “Micro Mill” finally gave him the freedom and control over quality that he had always wanted as a coffee farmer. His Helsar de Zarcero mill has been turning out some of the best coffee in Costa Rica ever since, and Ricardo is finally being paid a healthy and fair price for his fantastic coffee.