"Hola, pura vida!" Interview with Ricardo Ureña
When it comes to Costa Rican coffee, many consumers may have the impression of the pleasant floral aroma and sweet fruit tone of the musician series. Sweetness and cleanliness, the proud characteristics of Costa Rican coffee, are also perfectly reflected in this batch of coffee at Cafe rivense Manor. This time, in addition to Catura/Catuai, they also brought us Geisha, and other varieties, presenting the most representative Costa Rican coffee.
Café Rivense del Chirripó, are located between Costa Rica's two national parks, breathing with the vegetation, birds and beasts and ecosystems of the valley. They do not use hydraulic transportation and peeling in their treatment methods, and waste generated in processing is also recycled in the drying process. Under the challenge of climate change, they also try their best to deal with it through technological innovation.
"Hola, pura vida!" There was also a Costa Rican greeting at the end of the phone, and we began the interview.
- CEx: How long have you been in the coffee industry? I heard that you are the third generation of coffee farmers. Do you have any coffee stories in the family?
Ricardo: I'm 29 years old, but I've been engaged in the coffee industry for 16 years. In 2005, my parents founded this company and a microprocessor factory. I was still in high school, but I would help my parents during the delivery season.
To be precise, I am actually the fourth generation of coffee producers.. My great-grandfather came here from other places to create this community, cultivate mountains and plant the first coffee tree. Now the fifth generation (Ricardo's children) are also growing up. They also live in the manor, grow up with coffee, learn and learn about coffee.
-CEx: The coffee beans provided to us this time are mainly treated with traditional methods - black honey, washing, sun exposure, especially honey treatment. Is there any special reason for choosing these treatments? How do you operate it?
R: We try to maintain a simple treatment - the coffee we process is whole honey treatment (raisin honey treatment), that is, adding all coffee glue to the treatment. It doesn't matter if the colloid turns red, yellow or black during drying, because the products we sell eventually only contain flavorful seeds. We only focus on processing coffee products themselves with whole honey, and the rest are the performance of different varieties of coffee beans at different heights and drying times. Maybe I didn't follow the trend, but we tried to simplify everything.
- CEx: What kind of coffee do you grow so far?
R: Our main varieties are Catura and Catuai, but we also produce such as Villalobos, and Geisha: these are the coffees we produce the most.
We are also trying a hybrid species: H3, cassiopia and another species called excellencia. They are a mixture of caturra and another breed. We are also planting Javanes, wush wush and several Pacas plants. Our hybrid of SL28 and Esset 47 will have a harvest next year.
We have a breeding park to test which varieties can develop well here. In the next few years, we may have ultra-micro batches, one or two hundred kilograms of these experimental varieties to see how they perform.
CEx: We now have six coffees from you; is there any interesting story behind these coffees?
-R: These six cups of coffee, three from our farm and two from our neighbors.
One of them is Wilfrido, who is also a family farm. My mother is my father's aunt. They started to deal with coffee two years ago, but they have no way to sell it. We found them and said that if you want, we can share some of our resources and knowledge.
Their coffee treatment is also mainly honey treatment and sun exposure, similar to ours. This one sent this time is an ultra-long sunbathing. They put the coffee beans on the second floor of the sunburner for about a week, so the whole drying process lasts about 20 days. Its cup test performance is very good. It is a very interesting coffee with exotic aromas and citrus acidity.
Another washed coffee comes from his neighbor Lica Torres. His name is actually Luis Carlos. Liga is his nickname since he was a child. They produce Villa sarchi and a visperos variety.
Verasacchi is a unique variant of Costa Rica. It is a variant of tin pickup trucks in the western part of our central valley. At that time, the place was called Villa sarchi. This coffee bean is named after the place where it was found. This breed is very famous locally, but we want to see how it will perform in our wetner and more rainfall place: it also performs well here. In the face of frost, it may be more fragile, so we have to be more careful. But it can still thrive in humid environments.
CEx: When it comes to climate, there seem to be more natural disasters this year than in previous years. What microclimate changes have you found locally?
-R: 10 years ago, you could be sure that the rainy season would end in mid-December, after which the dry season would come until around May. From January to March in the past 2020, I can say that it rains at least one day a week. This affects the blooming of coffee, because it is not resistant to pressure. If the plant is pressed, you can see that there are more flowers than leaves, but if the plant can easily absorb water, it will not be pressed and will grow more leaves.
We even saw birds that used to be only at the bottom of the valley, such as big beaks, now flying to the mountain. Therefore, the climate is indeed changing.
The period from January to March was once drier, so ripe coffee would be sweeter during that period. Our production season is usually from November to March, and most of them were in the dry season before. Now we have to pick in the rain and dry it. Therefore, we had to make a decision last year whether to continue to maintain 100% pure sunlight and face more defects, or to start using machines to dry, improve production capacity and dry conditions.
Our current method is to combine drying the drying of the drying bed with the machine. Finally, when operating through the machine, we will simulate the temperature of coffee on the drying bed to avoid the impact of weather changes. Every five days, we change the coffee on the bed, let them go to the warehouse for a break, and then use the machine to dry for 48 hours to finish drying.
[Picture: Ricardo and his partners take their coffee to the 2019 Boston SCA Coffee Show and the World Coffee and Spirits Competition]
CEx: On social media, we see that one of the slogans of farms is "sustainable production", and Costa Rica, as a country, has also been shaping an environmentally friendly image. What does "sustainable production" mean to you?
R: We live in nature, and our products also come from nature. We who engage in agriculture have forgotten one thing for many years, that is, what we handle is natural: it comes from plants. If we don't put plants in ecosystems and treat them correctly, they will eventually be more vulnerable to diseases and disasters.
We are located between two national parks: Chirripó in the east, the highest peak in Costa Rica, and Quetzales National Park and Buena Vista Mountain in the north. These are two mountains, and both of them are nature reserves. If we combine production and nature conservation, our ecosystems can also be combined with those of national parks. All birds and wild animals can come and go freely and live on farms.
In Costa Rica, the way we treat nature has also been changing. In the 90s, we took the lead in stipulating the amount of water allowed per unit of coffee, and also limited garbage disposal methods. This affects the way our whole country views nature. In the long run, it is also to protect nature as a resource: in the face of a desert, we have nothing we can do.
CEx: What's your impression of the Chinese market?
R: I feel that this increase in demand may reflect a change in Chinese consumption habits, as well as changes in the concept of coffee and the whole beverage culture. I also said to Mau: These days, there are more and more Chinese names at competitions and online auctions, and more and more Chinese companies are buying these award-winning batches. This is the reaction of the consumer side: if these companies are scrambling to buy these batches, it means that people have demand and the market potential is huge. This makes us very gratified.
CEx: What do you want to say to Chinese roasters?
R: We hope everyone can enjoy coffee and try to explain the story of the seed about where it grows and people. All these positive energy, these careful cares have brought seeds all the way to China and the hands of bakers. We want to share these with people through every baked bean.
Any feedback about coffee can also be sent to us: what we should keep, what flavors are welcome, and what flavors are unwelcome; opinions and feedback are very helpful for our future improvements.
Enjoy the best coffee in Costa Rica and Chiribo! :)