The name Las Palomas – The Doves refers to the vast array of birdlife to be found here, in this beautiful paradise, that produces this fabulous coffee. It is ...
The name Las Palomas – The Doves refers to the vast array of birdlife to be found here, in this beautiful paradise, that produces this fabulous coffee. It is a deep and generous coffee that delivers a host of fantastic rich dessert wine flavours of forest fruits, plum, almond and blueberry. If you get the chance you must try pairing it with our gorgeous Blueberry Bakewell tart, fresh out of the bakery!
The day we visited the Las Palomas farm of Don Jorge Monge Garcia was one of those special days when everything seemed to click into place. Some days seem to stick in the memory more than others and this was one such day, that I replay time and time again in my head as an idyllic origin trip highlight.
We were in the region of Tarbaca, the highest of the original five districts of the Canton Aserri. This sparsely populated area is home to vast tracts of untouched virgin woodland. It also contains Costa Rica’s second highest peak, 2,400m the Cerro Cedral, or forest of Cedars. The endangered species, Cedra Dulce, the sweet cedar, grows here in a niche habitat. The Costa Ricans are model guardians of their beautiful country and have the renewal of the forests written into their constitution, so its future is hopefully safe in their hands.
Don Jorge who inherited Las Palomas from his parents back in 1993 was one of eleven children, all of whom are still involved with coffee. It is a good-sized farm spanning six hectares, that produces around 250 fanegas a year. That’s about 11.5 tonnes of green coffee per annum. The two full time workers are joined by a troupe of a further 25 guest workers for picking the cherries at harvest time. They move between here and other farms as the cherries ripen.
The cherry for this lot will have been delivered to the mill and processed the same day. Here it will have been sorted to remove any defects and transferred to drying patios and turned intermittently for seven days. It is regularly monitored during the drying stage which helps to guarantee its superior quality. Once the desired moisture content is reached it is swept up into GrainPro bags for resting in its cherry until the hulling process.
Unbeknown to us, that perfect day down on the farm, would turn out to be the last such occasion for any foreseeable future. The pandemic loophole was closing around us and the world was about to change forever.
We were treated to such warm hospitality that day. After visiting the slopes of carefully planted and tended Catui and Caturra coffee trees, we couldn’t help noticing the enticing aroma of a barbeque grill emanating from an open-sided building. Sure enough it was time to crack open some chilled beers on this sizzling day and tuck in to a buffet of local delights from a chef and local café, that had popped-up on site for us. We went on to visit later them in the day. One of the best examples of a Speciality Café you would find anywhere and a model for other origins to follow.
We were shocked to hear some months later that Don Jorge had passed away, through no result of the pandemic. Our hearts went out to his wife, Flor Mayela Garcia Valverde and his family. This small corner of the coffee world mourned his passing but also pledged to honour his legacy. We would continue to buy his coffee and to lavish the same care and attention on the roasting the beans and brewing the coffee as he did on the growing, harvesting and processing.
Don Jorge was a naturally handsome man with movie-star looks and a perfectly trimmed beard. I happened to comment on his admirable whiskers and a witty retort came back via a translator, asking if my own silver but dishevelled locks were real or a wig! Every day, as I attempt to trim my beard as well as his, I am reminded of him and of that day we all enjoyed in Las Palomas.