AGUILERA BROTHERS

costa-rica

85
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Altitude

1500 masl

Preparation

Red Honey

Location

West Valley - Naranjo

Variety

VIlla Sarchi

Owner

Dagoberto

Harvest

December - February

Shipment

March - May

(GPS 10.1122065 – 84.3631232)

Aguilera farm is run by 12 siblings (8 brothers and 4 sisters) on a total of 50 hectares. Dagoberto and Jose David are two of them. The farms altitudes are running from 1,450 masl to 1,700. The mill is at 1,450 masl.

A lot of experiments and innovation are done with varieties. They have various types of Geisha, Sarchimore, Pacamara, Venezia, Cidra, Catuai, Villa Sarchi intercropped with banana trees, poró tico (native from Costa Rica) and avocado trees.

The siblings were initially just farming and used to deliver their cherries to a neighbour wet mill. But, 10 years ago, they decided to create more value for their coffee controlling a bit more the supply chain. They built the wet and dry mill and little by little were able to prepare their coffee up to export stage at their place. 7 years ago, they invested in greenhouses for the drying as the area is very windy and drying the coffee without cover was tricky as it kept been blown away.

The farms also have wind protections with some local trees on all farm edges. After slashing weeds, they use them a mulch material, they prune each tree every 3 years and they have left a decent amount of space in between rows. A combination of chemical and organic fertilization is applied a couple of times a year.

They also roast and grind their own coffee, the family itself consumes 69 kg of coffee a month and they sell about 50kg to neighbours per week. At the peak of the harvest, 45 pickers work with them in the farms. 2018-2019 season has been very low, and the volumes dropped drastically.

However, the weather has been really sunny and dry, therefore they only did naturals, Red and Black honeys this year. The color of the honey is dictated by the amount of pulp and the time of drying (related to weather) but they can make the drying longer piling the coffee, spreading in thicker layers and regularly covering it from the sun. The honeys are not moved for the first day of drying. The football pitch, which is protected from the wind down the mill, is where they dry their naturals. The naturals are not moved for 2 full days and then moved with the rake without stepping on it to avoid damaging the cherries. Naturals are then moved 3 times a day and every half an hour for the honeys.

It takes them about 7 days to dry the Red honeys this year and 22 days for the naturals. They are the 3rd generation of coffee producers on this land and the 4th generation is at university studying and planning to take over the farming business in a few years.

Their main challenges in the business are climate change and the diseases directly linked to it. It has also impacted the production cycles. They would like to learn more about processes and are keen to experiment different methods. They would love to set up a little lab and have the possibility to control their quality better.