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Sustainability at Farami: Trip Report


21 June 2019

Farami is a farm that is very special to us here at 3fe, and one that has been the focus of previous sustainability posts looking at the economic sustainability of our purchasing practices.

We are getting ready to launch fresh coffee from Farami next week, so we thought it'd be timely to post this blog from our green buyer Steve. He visited the farm in January and sat down with Maria Eugenia Ramirez, one half of the Farami duo, alongside our exporter Francisco on interpreting duties! They talked about the history of Farami, and sustainability not only in terms of the environmental aspects which they are extremely invested in, but also the social and economic sides to sustainability on the farm. We'll let Steve take it from here!


FARAMI TRIP REPORT

This year (like every year) in January I get a chance to enjoy one of the best parts of my job. For the last 10 years, I’ve been able to visit Central America; in particular, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador ending the trip in the wonderful Costa Rica.

Coffee production has played an important role in Costa Rica's history and continues to be essential to the country's economy. The largest growing areas are in the provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas, and Cartago.

Costa Rica is small in size, and small in terms of its coffee production (around 1% of the entire world production), but is unique in the fact that large parts of its production are for the specialty market.

The Micro Mill revolution (a term coined by the country’s coffee producers) began in the early 2000s. Small coffee farmers bought their own micro mill to take control of the quality and take advantage of the new set of buyers who demanded quality and traceability. Prior to this coffee growers would deliver their coffee cherries to large corporations who owned huge mills and they'd be sold as anonymous commodities, with names like Costa Rica Tarrazu or Costa Rica SHG.

This empowerment has meant that the Costa Rican coffee industry is as strong as it’s ever been, with wonderful stories and traceability along with some of the most distinct and unique cup profiles.

One of those micro mills was installed at Farami, a Farm that we have worked with at 3fe for many years now (we were involved in the first production outturn back in 2010 and continue to this day).

The farm is unique in other ways: it’s not just a coffee farm, but a working farm with pigs, chickens and other livestock, that feed the family but to also create an income by sending to market for food production. This also creates an all year-round income to subsidise the once-a-year coffee production.

You’re starting to see this is a special place, but one of its largest USPs is that it’s the first coffee farm in Costa Rica to attain the Blue Flag accreditation. This is based around strict sustainability and environmental guidelines that are recognised throughout the country and the world.

FARAMI (an acronym of the family names Fallas and Ramírez). The husband and wife team Juan Luis Fallas and Maria Eugenia Ramirez have been working the land just outside of Santa María de Dota since the 1980s.

Maria and Juan Luis are a former Cup of Excellence award winner (2015 29th, 2014 17th and 2013 3rd), because they create delicious coffee, in a sustainable and environmental way, that reaches a good price, because of their hard work and strong principles.

Amazing people, amazing coffee. Whilst there I created a small video explaining these principles for you to enjoy.


Stephen Leighton, Green Buyer for 3fe