Grecia Trip – Wycombe for Fairtrade – Afternoon Monday 16 May 2022

Day 4. Tour of CoopeVictoria Coffee Roastery Mon 16th May 2022.  Afternoon.

After a fascinating tour of Carlos’ organic coffee and sugar cane farm, Maria Angela drove us to have lunch in a “sopa”, a small cheap café and mini market with very reasonably priced food. The sopa was owned by CoopeVictoria and sold 8 of their coffees as well as their new range of Rainforest Alliance certificated chocolate bars. The complex included a pharmacy, a few other shops, and a petrol station, the largest in Central America. These were all owned and managed by CoopeVictoria. The petrol and gasoline pumps were powered by solar panels on the roof of the petrol forecourt canopy. After our meal we returned to CoopeVictoria.

Caption: Located in the CoopeVictoria gardens near the roastery are examples of the varieties of coffee plants grown by the small cooperative member farmers.

Andres Gonzales, the Research and Development Director of CoopeVictoria, then showed Mike, Sheena, and Marie Angela around the dormant coffee roastery and explained the processes. The roastery was undergoing mechanical maintenance in preparation for the new coffee harvest in November 2022. Andres pointed out the delivery system for the coffee cherries, the washing process, as well as the coffee cherry mulching machines which removed the pulp to expose the coffee beans. The beans were then dried and either exported as Fair Trade “green beans” for roasting abroad or were roasted onsite.

Caption: Maria Angela and Andres Alvarado pose by the information boards in CoopeVictoria garden relating how sugar cane production has developed since 1943.

The roastery itself dates to 1943 and some of the other equipment like the boilers needed upgrading or replacing. The boilers were currently wood fired and would need to be replaced by less polluting methods.

Caption: Trucks bring the ripe coffee cherries to the CoopeVictoria roastery which are unloaded into these hoppers where the coffee cherries are weighed, and the farmer paid according to weight.

CoopeVictoria produces a range of 8 coffee types grown by the 3000 cooperative small farmers. Six of these coffees have either wholly Fairtrade certification and/or Soil Association certification indicating its organic origin. This included the recently released “Essence of Women” Fairtrade coffee which is grown exclusively by 20 women owned or run coffee fincas (small farms). We saw the bagging ares for the green beans for export in the large warehouse.

Caption: Coffee cherries are then soaked in water in these ponds.

There was a single, non-Fairtrade blend of coffee that was sold entirely within Costa Rica and was not exported. It has proved to be very popular with the Costa Rican public, being widely sold in independent stores and supermarkets, in addition to the CoopeVictoria shop next to the roastery and their “Sopa” located at their petrol station on the outskirts of Grecia. At the conclusion of the tour at 4.00 pm, it was time to visit the “Quality Grading Centre” to test the consistency of the coffee varieties.

Caption: Wet coffee cherries are then turned in these drums to remove the outer pulp layer.

Caption:  The pulped cherries are then pumped into these drainage tanks. Water drains out and the mulch is used for free fertilizer by all the CoopeVictoria farmers.

Caption: Boilers are wood fired and have been since 1943. Equipment needs updating and non-fossil fuels utilized.

Caption: Some exported coffees are roasted by CoopeVictoria, others like this new Women Essence coffee are exported as dried green beans and roasted overseas.

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