The Roland Glew takeover continues with more fun and frolics in Costa Rica
After an enlightening and beautiful drive, Weiner and I arrived at Cafe ARBAR – the farm of Carlos Arrieta and his family. Carlos, his wife and their children Karen & Jose Ignacio came out to welcome us and he began to show us around the farm. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish so we had to rely on Weiner to translate between us – but that didn’t delay us long before we were all laughing and walking through the coffee plants.
This was Manantial – the farm area around their home. Carlos started by showing me the raised drying beds he uses – each with a plastic cover that they have to run and and put up if a sudden downpour appears. We went on to see plants at every stage of their growth – seeds buried under a pile of leaves which were just germinating, then planted into little pots, 1 year old plants nearly ready for planting out, and then 2 year old and full grown plants in the soil.
Everything on the farm is used efficiently – the pulp and skin from the processed cherries is made into compost, rainwater fills a tank where they keep fish for their dinner and shade comes from mangos, oranges and other fruit trees. It was great to hear all the family speak very passionately about how important it was that the farm worked with nature. Later, walking between matured trees that were just beginning to blossom, Carlos showed me how they let the space around the coffee plants grow wild – and that this was good for the soil, good for nature and good for the taste of the coffee.
After walking around Manatial, I was invited in to the house were they had brewed some of their coffee and cooked a selection of homemade tortillas and cakes for my visit. The care and generosity they showed was truly moving and I can say that sitting at their table with them, talking about everything from farming to roasting, from food to the English weather, is something I will never forget.
We then went down to their second farm, Oasis, and a new plot, Israel. As we looked at the matured trees, Carlos pointed out some Geisha varietal plants amid the Caturra – one of several new varietals they are trying out.
It was getting dark by now, so we headed back to the house – but not before Carlos climbed a tree and got some green mangos for me to try with salt – a classic Costa Rican combination. With the sun set, we ventured out one last time into Manantial, where they had saved me a couple of coffee cherries on the tree to taste. As we said our goodbyes, they taught me Costa Rica’s favourite phrase – pura vida, roughly “This is the life!”
I could keep talking about ARBAR forever – I’m sure it will feel like that to all my friends and family when I get back – but I will stop for now. I’ll finish with the most important thing to the Arrieta family. What they all said to me, was how much they loved growing the coffee and how pleased they were that they could see I felt the same way about it as they did – that I shared their passion. My reply was that not only did I love their coffee, but I told them how many of our customers we sent their coffee to and how many lovely things I had heard back. So if you have drunk coffee from Cafe ARBAR and enjoyed it, thank you – you helped put huge smiles on the faces of a wonderful family.