Costa Rica Carlos Montero
Costa Rica Carlos Montero
Region: Costa Rica, Tarrazu
Process: Double Washed
Cupping Notes: Lemonade | White Grape | Pear
Thanks to the honest work of Tropiq, we’re able to not only FOB pricing (price paid to Tropiq at moment of delivery to the port) but also farmgate price (price paid directly to the producer).
Costa Rica is a model of how a direct and transparent purchasing model can lead to a higher premium for coffee, across the board. This means, of course, that all the producers we are working with are receiving quite high prices as is deserved for the quality of their work.
The coffees we purchased from Carlos Montero this year, came in at a combine FOB cost of $4.44/lb,
Logistics for exportation and Tropiq’s fee combine to represent $0.75/lb, so once removed, Carlos received a farmgate price of $3.69USD/lb for his coffees this year. To be added to this is our cost for ocean freight to Canada, which added another .35cents/lb, making our landed price for this coffee $4.70USD/lb.
What We Hope You Remember
Carlos is a second generation coffee farmer who works closely with his son and daughter in the growing, harvesting, and processing of their coffees.
This is our second year purchasing from the Montero family. This year’s purchase was managed in a very direct fashion and we increased our volumes of bags purchased from 21 to 32. We hope to continue to grow together.
Before 2013, Carlos sold his coffee in cherries to a local co-operative. He then built his micr-mill, Don Eli, so he could process his own coffee, increase quality and receive higher prices.
Carlos’ daughter, Marianela, works for Tropiq — a company that operates in Costa Rica with the goal of assisting farmers to increase their yields, raise their quality, and connect them with a global specialty market. They operate a cupping lab in the region and hold post-harvest information sessions, as well as host roasters and buyers in Costa Rica.
De Mello & The Montero Family
This is our second year working with Carlos Montero and his family-operated Micro-Mill, Don Eli. After discovering some coffees from Don Eli through an importer, we dedicated ourselves to making contact with Carlos’ daughter, Marianela, and began the conversation about how we could work with their family in a more direct manner.
Costa Rica is kind of a dream origin for making purchases from producers. Thanks to the political stability and economic strength relative to the rest of Central America, the coffee industry has been thriving for many years. The ease of sales to Europe and North America has allowed for producers to develop strong connections with their buyers and as a result, producers are quite aware of things that matter to specialty buyers such as lot separation and processing variations.
This year, thanks to technology and the great work of Marianela, we were able to speak with her throughout the harvest, receive samples, and make our selections from Canada, and then arrange freight to our warehouse in Toronto.
Though we have yet to visit the Montero family, we already feel we have formed a close connection and are building a relationship for years to come.
Carlos Montero is a second-generation coffee farmer, who follows in the footsteps of his father, Eli Montero, from which the micro-mill he now operates takes its name. His children, Marianela, Jacob, and Mariajose, are all closely involved in the process, creating a third generation of highly-skilled coffee farmers.
Until 2013, Carlos sold his coffee in cherry to local co-operatives, who then processed, milled, and sold his coffee to buyers. In much of Central America, if a producer sells their coffee in cherry it’s to a coyote - a middle man who buys cherries at a low price before re-selling them on the market. In Costa Rica, this practice is illegal and cooperatives pay a higher price for cherries.
Nonetheless, Carlos recognized that he could make much more for his coffee if he took the time to invest in his farms and build a micro-mill. This was a hugely risky move for Carlos — he was leaving behind a guaranteed price for his coffee, and taking on perhaps the hardest part of coffee production, which comes after the cherries are harvested and was going to have to go without the cooperative’s buyer network. However, building this allowed him to control everything from the harvesting and processing down to milling and as such, greatly increase his price for his coffee.
At the farm level, his son Jacob manages the processing portion of the work while his daughter, Mariajose, handles the drying. Marianela also spent time working on the farm but has now moved into a quality control and sales roles with the company Tropiq, for who she now works.
La Pastora is Carlos’ favourite farm and he’s been working with a wide variety of processes. This year, we purchased both a honey process and double washed process Catuai from Carlos.
Tropiq is a sister company to the specialty coffee importer Nordic Approach. Though they are owned by Nordic Approach, they also work with them as any other buyer might. Tropiq operates mainly in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, with farmers at high altitudes who are operating their own micromills.
Their main goals are to develop fully traceable coffees for buyers while assisting growers with feedback during and after harvest. In addition to operating a cupping lab throughout the season, they also offer the services of an agronomic engineer to the producers for the purpose of supporting farmers with quality control.
The results are coffees that range in score from 86-90 and a corresponding price premium that is more than double the C market and/or Fair Trade minimum price, which is paid in full at the moment of the delivery of their coffee to the exporter (a practice that seems obvious, but is not always guaranteed).