NBC in Costa Rica: The Adventure Continues

We’ve been here in Costa Rica for several days now, and the activities have been nonstop! Each morning, we wake up very early, head to farms, mills, processing stations, and then more farms, and meet the most incredible people. I think all of us on this trip, which is the prize-winning trip for the NBC 2009’s winning team, Team Denmark, as well as a handful of us lucky enough to tag along, are truly amazed with each experience. We think one can’t top the other, and then it does, leaving us breathless from what we’ve learned and seen. I must thank Mercanta and Cafe Noble, the generous sponsors of the trip, for organizing and providing such a magical experience for all of us.

So we last left off on Monday at the end of the day ”I wouldn’t have thought Tusday could be any busier and filled with experiences, but it was! We left our awesome lodgings in the Terrazu region and set out for Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Our first stop was at the finca and ecological micro mill, Las Lajas, where Fernanda Francisca, who runs the farm with her family, gave us a tour of her simply incredible farm.

Above, Fernanda explains her motivation for turning Las Lajas into all organic: the health of her family.

The immaculate rows of coffee on her farm…

Some of the countless pristine red berries on her trees.

In heavy wind, she explains why she prefers the African raised beds for drying.

From left to right, Fernanda, Ea and Francois

The group poses for a photo with Fernanda and her son, Oscar, before departing.

We all had to pull ourselves away from Fernanda — she was so welcoming, and her practices were incredibly impressive. But we had lunch scheduled at Mans Abiertas, the nonproft organization for which the NBC teams raised $10,000 during the NBC event in Iceland last September. An edit to my earlier post: the monies were actually delivered to Manos Abiertas already, and they are being used to help build a much needed hospital for the children and disabled people who receive care at Manos Abiertas. We were able to see the work in progress. Sister Marlena treated us to a wonderful lunch, as well.

Above, Sister Marlena tells us about Manos Abiertas, and how much she appreciates the monies raised by the Nordic Barista Cup teams.

At lunch, Bjorg gave a wonderful speech about how honored the NBC teams were to have assited in the building of Manos Abiertas’ trauma unit.

Prior to leaving, I snapped this photo of the group inside Manos Abiertas’ beautiful church.

The hospital in progress: thank you to all the Nordic Barista Cup teams!

And then, we were off again, this time to a large, high quality Co-op in Maranjo, Coopronaranjo. The size of this place was the ploar opposite of Fernanda’s small finca, but it was delightful to see how well it is run, and what pains the managers go to in working sustainably.

Above, Samuli, Flori and Thomas check out the massive wet mill.

Here, the manager f the mill’s water processing plant shows us samples of the water coming out of the mill (left), and then the cleaner water after it has been purified.

We covered our noses in the smelly gassy section of the water processing area, but it was all good: the rivers around the mill are being kept clean and healthy, thanks to the efforts of the managers.

After the tour, we wound up at the cupping room to try a cross section of the coffees processed at Coopronaranjo.

This was the end of the day, and we headed up to the amazingly beautiful horse ranch, Rancho Amalia. Unfortunately, the weather has been unseasonably cold and windy here this week. Not to worry, we kept busy with plenty of indoor games… see below.

This morning, I walked out the door of our cabin and saw this…

No joke.

We had a delicious breakfast, and then piled into the van for a ride to Doña Daysi’s Los Manantiales, which was the number one Cup of Excellence winner in 2007. Doã Daysi was so wonderful! We were truly so lucky to be there.

The lovely Doña Daysi.

Above, Flori gets silly with her picking basket.

Can you imagine how excited we were when we found out that we would be picking again, this time lots that would get processed and sent to us at home? So we all picked for about an hour and a half, and walked away with our own microlots!

We’d certainly worked up an appetite by the time we were through, and Doña Daysi treated us to traditional olla de carne for lunch, which she prepared herself!

Too soon, we were on our way to our next stop, but we were excited when we got there — the famous Herbazu farm, whose beans were used by a certain British barista champ by the name of James Hoffmann when he won the WBC title in Tokyo!

Before our farm tour, the children of the producers (Herbazu is co-owned by the 13 siblings) gave us a most warm welcome by dancing and telling the story of coffee in Costa Rica. They were adorable!

Above: the man, the mystery, the legend of Herbazu.

Above, Stephen Hurst of Mercanta joined us today and will remain with the group through the week. We’re excited to have him!

Before leaving, the group posed on a drying patio for a photo. What an incredible day!

About Sarah 932 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I have been to Costa Rica 2 years ago and I agree with you that it is an awesome country! I love their food culture and also the weather. Those are great coffee beans photographs. I can imagine that they make a really great coffee blend. Great Post! Thanks.

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