Women in Coffee – Maria Jose Costa


Producer: Maria Jose Costa
Country: Brazil
Region: Norte Pioneiro
Farm/Co-operative: Sitio Sao Jose
Altitude: 850m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Catuai
Processing Method: Pulped Natural
Supplier: Condesa Co-Lab / Capricornio
Roasted for: Espresso

Tasting notes: Creamy body with walnut, milk chocolate, white grape and vanillla.

This coffee is part of Capricornio Coffee’s “Women in Coffee” project:

“Our idea is aligned with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and its Brazilian Chapter, that is, to empower women in Brazil and in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognise the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry, from seed to cup.

In these two regions and in these 69 cities, Capricornio Coffees offers support so that women in coffee conduct good agricultural practices at their estates, does quality control for coffees produced at these farms as well as finds opportunities and commercializes these coffee lots, adding value to the hard work these women have to produce specialty coffees.”

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Single Origin – Brazil Caldas Royale


Country: Brazil
Region: Pocos De Caldas, Minas Gerais
Farm/Co-operative: Caldas Royale
Altitude: 1000-1200m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Various
Processing Method: Natural
Supplier: Three Brothers

Tasting notes: Great body, chocolate and almond with slight berry notes. Clean, balanced cup. Long and prominent aftertaste.

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Single Origin – February – Burundi Bwayi


Country: Burundi
Region: Matongo, Kayanza
Farm/Co-operative: Bwayi Washing Station
Altitude: 1760m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Bourbon, Jackson, Mibirizi
Processing Method: Washed
Supplier: Cafe Imports

Tasting notes: Tangelo, blackberry, nougat, black tea, floral.

From Cafe Imports: “The Bwayi Washing Station is located in the town of Matongo, in the Kayanza Province of Burundi. On average there are 4,000 coffee producers contributing to Bwayi, 983 of whom contribute directly to the station, and 3,018 of which contribute to 10 different collection points. Other crops in the area include banana, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, and taro.

Deep in the heart of Africa is the tiny country Burundi, and deep in Burundi is Cafe Imports: We have been trekking to this gem of a place just south of Rwanda on Lake Tanganyika since 2006, and Cafe Imports was one of the very first companies to see the great potential in specialty coffees here—not only for their profile, which is exquisite, as complex as Kenya but as versatile as a top-flight Colombian; but also for the economic possibilities that specialty coffee offers.

Coffee in Burundi is a logistical challenge from start to finish, even for the best of us. It is a particularly poor country, with one of the lowest GDP in Africa, and recent years have brought renewed political struggles and unrest that hark back to very troubled times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The country’s landlocked position on the continent is also tricky to navigate: Rather than being sold FOB (Free on Board), as most coffees are once they arrive at port and are loaded onto a container, coffees from Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo are traded FOT, or Free on Truck—a much riskier arrangement as it requires an incredibly long haul from the processing mill to a port that’s as many as three countries and up to a week’s travel time removed.

Despite the surface similarities that Burundi and Rwanda share on paper with regards to varieties, processing, farmer profile, and history (the two nations are often lumped together on offerings sheets and in the “story” of African coffees), they are practically night and day in the cup: The sparkling acidity of Burundi and the incredible complexity and diversity that’s possible here is absolutely a product of the terroir, and the taste of the place is as beautiful and varied as the place itself.

We are in love with the coffees, the people, and the country of Burundi, and by continuing to invest in buying microlots from our washing-station partners, we are able to consistently offer our customers what we believe are some of the most interesting and most consistently high-cupping coffees from Africa.”


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Single Origin – December – Costa Rica Finca Edgar


Country: Costa Rica
Region: Los Robles de Naranjo, West Valley
Farm/Co-operative: Finca Edgar
Altitude: 1450-1500m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Villa Sarchi
Processing Method: Natural
Supplier: Cafe Imports

Tasting notes: Stewed fruit, pineapple, candied orange rind, green grape, tamarind, praline, sweet, syrupy.

The Aguileras are a family of 12 brothers and sisters who are second-generation coffee producers in the West Valley. (Hermanos is used to describe mixed male and female siblings in Spanish, but literally translates to “brothers” in English.) Their father was one of the first coffee growers in the area, and planted his farm 70 years ago: Neighboring farmers warned him that coffee wouldn’t grow there, but now the area is rich with coffee lands. His children, the Aguilera Brothers, work together to produce coffee: Most of the siblings own farmland, and they co-manage the micromill they installed eight years ago, which they built with the earnings from their fourth-place Cup of Excellence win in 2007.

At first their father was skeptical about the mill, but he has been pleased by the results: Before they had the mill, the family was selling its coffee to a local co-operative and did not have any connection with the roasters who bought the lots. “No one every visited before,” says brother Erasmo, the general manager of the micromill. “Now we get feedback, and we hear who likes the coffee and how we can make it better.” They have a nursery in which they are growing many different varieties, including Gesha and SL-28, as well as Bourbon and Villa Sarchi. They aim to grow “a balance of good-quality and rust-resistant varieties.”

This lot is a selection of Villa Sarchi, a variety discovered in the town of Sarchi, and is a Bourbon mutation with a 40% higher fruit system, and shorter internodal distance than Bourbon, somewhat similar to Caturra.



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Single Origin – November – Nicaragua La Ventaja


Country: Nicaragua
Region: Dipilto, Nueva Segovia
Farm/Co-operative: Finca La Ventaja
Altitude: 1350m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Caturra
Processing Method: Washed
Supplier: Cafe Imports

Tasting notes: Green apple, grape, macadamia, praline, lime rind, baking spice, juicy.

From Cafe Imports: “Cafetos de Segovia micromill is a labor of love from the Albir family, specifically now the second generation, sisters Ana and Martha Albir, who inherited their passion for coffee from their father, who bought a coffee farm in 1991, tending to it with dedication until political strife forced his family to leave the country and cease the day-to-day operations of the farm. In 2007, Ana and Martha decided to take over the farm and continue their father’s tradition. In 2015, they invested in a mill as well, and began their milling operation as Cafetos de Segovia in 2016, providing milling and exporting services not only for their own family farm but also for 11 nearby farms owned by friends and family.

Nicaragua is known for producing larger quantities of standard coffees, and microlots are much less common, despite the presence of good quality varieties like Bourbon and Caturra: The lower elevations throughout the country and the prevalence of coffee-leaf rust have made it difficult for producers to achieve that ellusive micrlot status. The Albir sisters and their associates are interested in producing specialty coffee, and are going the extra mile to separate lots based on variety and a host of experimental processes such as honeys and naturals, which are unusual for Nicaraguan coffee as well. We expect to see the volumes of their microlot-quality lots improve, and are also impressed by their blended lots of more standard coffees—a diversity of options that allow them to grow with the developing Nicaraguan specialty market.

This lot is from a producer whose farm is nearby: Sergio Paguaga, from the farm Finca La Ventaja. Don Sergio grows several varieties on his 30 manzanas, including Caturra, Java, Catuai, and Maracaturra. This particular lot is a separation of his Caturra, which is picked ripe, fermented with water for 10–12 hours, then laid on patios to dry for 10–15 days. Don Sergio has been working in coffee for 15 years, and says that coffee is something that he produces with love and enthusiasm.”


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Single Origin – September – Ethiopia Gelana Abaya

Flag_of_Ethiopia.svgCountry: Ethiopia
Region: Asgori, Abaya, Yirgacheffe
Farm/Co-operative: Various smallholder farmers
Altitude: 1795–2150m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopian varieties
Processing Method: Natural
Supplier: Cafe Imports

Tasting notes: Cherry chocolate, pineapple, green grape, panela, jasmine tea, elder flower.

From Cafe Imports: “This coffee comes from our washing-station partners at Gelana Abaya, which is in the kebele, or village, of Asgori, in the woreda, or district, of Abaya, in the Yirgacheffe region.

Aside from its near-legendary status as the “birthplace” of Arabica coffee, there is much to love about Ethiopia as a producing nation, including but not limited to the incredible diversity of flavor and character that exists among microregions, specifically within the southwestern Gedeo Zone of Yirgacheffe within the region of Sidama—areas whose names alone conjure thoughts of the finest coffees in the world. Coffee was literally made to thrive in the lush environment Yirgacheffe’s forests provide, developing nuanced floral characteristics, articulate sweetness and sparkling acidity. However, coffee has also adapted to the more arid climate of Harrar, in the northeast of the country; the varieties planted there have historically had more chocolatey, rich undertones.

Processing, of course, also plays a significant part in what makes Ethiopian coffees distinct—both distinctly Ethiopian, as well as distinct from one another, washed or natural.

Until recently, coffee grown by smallholders and co-ops in Ethiopia were required to be sold through the ECX, where lots were classified by general region, quality (Grade 1–5), and escaped of most of their traceability. In March of 2017, the prime minister of Ethiopia approved a reform allowing co-operatively owned washing stations to export their coffee directly, which allows for separation of top coffee lots, higher prices for farmers, and increased recognition for the best quality coffees in Ethiopia.

Greater traceability allows us to buy more directly from the same washing stations year in and year out, and opens the potential for partnerships on a more micro level, with individual farmers or smaller groups within a community, to select out special lots.

Café Imports is proud to offer a variety of Ethiopian coffees—an inventory not simply diverse in flavor, but that also represents the various relationships and buying practices that exist within coffee’s native region.”



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Single Origin – August – Kenya Mutwewathi


Country: Kenya
Region: Mukurwe-ini Division, Nyeri County
Farm/Co-operative: Mutwewathi Factory
Altitude: 1680m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34, Ruiru 11, Batian
Processing Method: Washed, Sun Dried
Supplier: Cafe Imports

Tasting notes: Strong crisp citric acidity and heavy with rich chocolate, lemon-lime and clove.

Mutwe-wathi Factory is a washing station that services 1,050 farmers of the Gikaru CGCS. It was biult in 1965 and broke off from the larger Mukurwe-ini FCS in 2000 to join Gikaru which later became the New Gikaru F.C.S. The farmers (200 of whom are female) have an average of 200 trees per farm, and they grow the common Kenyan varieties of SL-28, SL-34, Batian, and Riuru 11. The farms in this area have red volcanic soil and the farmers grow tea, corn, and bananas in addition to coffee.

The factory uses one depulper and has four soaking pits for recycling and purifying wash water, which is provided by the Gura River. It is Fairtrade certified, and the farmers receive advance payment for school fees and for necessary farm inputs such as fertilizers. The factory manager also provides annual trainings for the members.

In our opinion, Kenya has one of the most interesting and complicated histories with coffee: Despite sharing a border with the “birthplace of coffee,” Ethiopia, Kenya was one of the latest places planted in coffee, nearly 300 years after the plant was first cultivated for sale. In fact, the varieties that were brought to Kenya had circumnavigated the globe before they found their way back to the African continent, mutating in various climates to create a profile that, once adapted to the rich soil around Mt. Kenya, resulted in the singular profiles that this country has to offer.

The first plants were brought to the country by Scottish and French missionaries, the latter contributing what would be known as French Mission Bourbon, transplanted from the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) to Tanzania and Kenya in an attempt to finance their efforts on the ground. The Scottish, meanwhile, brought strains from Mocha, the different varieties contributing to the dynamic quality of the coffees in the country even to this day.

Established as a British colony specifically for its moneymaking potential, Kenya became a coffee powerhouse as a way for the empire to control both the tea (already a Kenyan staple crop) and coffee markets worldwide. By the 1920s, as Europe demanded more and more coffee, the cash crop became a major Kenyan export, and in the 1930s the auction system was developed, ostensibly to democratize the market for farmers. After Kenya achieved independence from Britain in the 1960s, coffee took on a greater importance to small landholders, many of whom were given coffee farms in the redistribution of private property from large colonial and government-owned plantations.

In the 2000s, approximately 85% of the coffee farms in Kenya are owned by natives to the country, though European influence is still evident in larger estates. Today, the majority of Kenyan farmers tend small plots, growing as few as 150 coffee trees trees: They bring cherry to centrally located mills, where their coffees are weighed, sorted, and combined to create lots large enough to process and export. There are also privately owned estates, though fewer than during colonial days: The average estate grows around 10,000 coffee trees.


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Single Origin – July – El Salvador El Aguila


Country: El Salvador
Region: Santa Ana
Farm/Co-operative: El Aguila
Altitude: 1500-1720m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Bourbon
Processing Method: Washed
Supplier: Melbourne Coffee Merchants

Tasting notes: Balanced and fruity with caramel sweetness, blackcurrant and winey acidity. Soft mouthfeel with notes of plum, dark chocolate and yellow peach.

“Finca El Aguila (‘the Eagle’) is located at 1500m – 1720 above sea level nestled between the La Ranas and El Aguila volcanoes near the town of Cantón Ojo de Agua, a municipality of Chalchuapa in the Santa Ana department of El Salvador.

The farm 63 hectares in size, 44 of which are planted with coffee with the rest dedicated to a natural reserve. has the perfect conditions to produce exceptional coffee, with high altitude, rich volcanic soil, plenty of rainfall and temperatures of 18 – 24 degrees celcius.

Today the farm is run by fifth generation coffee farmer, Ricardo Ariz. Ricardo only recently took over the farm and is relatively new to coffee. He has fond memories of being at El Aguila from an early age with his grandfather, Miguel Angelo, a passionate and curious farmer. “I think we have my grandfather to thank for the good quality varieties on this farm. I don’t think he planted them because they made financial sense, but he loved to try new things.” Ricardo’s grandfather passed away in the late 60s, and Mauricio, Ricardo’s father, took over the farm. He was very young at the time, having just finished college. Maurico managed the farm for 15 years until 1980. At this time the Civil War erupted in El Salvador, and the country saw extreme violence for next 12 years. During ‘The Lost Decade’, the farm was practically abandoned. Mauricio and his family moved to the States, and the farm was managed at arms length via engineers who visited the farm 4-5 times a year.

In the 1990s, when the Civil war ended, the Ariz family started to recoup the farm, and hired people to manage the farm on a daily basis, however the farms remoteness and inaccessibility made this difficult. It was not really until 2010, after the passing of Ricardo’s 88 year-old grandmother, that the family decided to actively invest and manage the property.

It was at this time that Mauricio (who had built up a successful business in the US and had no intention of returning to El Salvador) approached Ricardo to run the farm. Ricardo, who has a Masters in Economics and Finance and had spent most of his adult life in venture capital reflects, “Before taking over the farm, I didn’t really even drink coffee. But when I took it over, I started making an effort to taste different coffees, learn how to cup and understand the industry. And as I did, I developed a real interest in the farm and a real liking for coffee. I attended the SCAA and started meeting with people from the specialty coffee industry and I learned I lot from them.”

Since taking over the management of El Aguila, Ricardo has surrounded himself with a strong team of experts who have helped him ensure that they engage with the best possible farming practices on the farm.  “I tried to find the brightest people who are the most committed to working here.” He now has a team of 7 full time employees, including a full time agronomist. He also employs 60 pickers during the harvest.

Ricardo admits that when he first took on the management of the farm, it was because he felt like ‘it was his time to bat’. But it has been through his relationships with his staff and the surrounding community that Ricardo has found his love for coffee and his newfound profession. “I’ve found a passion for coffee – its something that has really turned me on, and its not for its financial rewards- it’s more of a spiritual thing.” he explained to us on the long winding drive up to El Aguila.

He explained “It’s been self fulfilling, because the minute the workers realised that I was actually committed to improving the farm and their lifestyle, and understanding that we were going to grow, and why, we started discovering a lot of things together.”

Ricardo’s staff have helped him build an inventory of what is growing on the farm. In total they have discovered 7 unique varieties on the farm which they have been gradually separating and testing for both their cup quality, resilience and yield. Of the 7 they have found 3 that are commercially viable – (ie they cup well and produce enough coffee). In addition to these varieties, the plantation has mainly Bourbon planted throughout it (around 80% of the plantation), and some small plots of SL28, SL34, Pacamara, Yellow Caturra and Geisha. Ricardo and his team are now working out the best places of the farm to plant each variety so that it thrives. Sometimes I feel like we are stitching a quilt” Ricardo explained as he took us around the farm.

Annually Ricardo and his team plant around 8500 trees per year. Trial and error has seen them gradually find the optimal places to grow each variety, and armed with this knowledge, Ricardo is gradually mapping out a long term plan for the farm. Planting new varieties has become a priority, especially those that appear to be unique to the farm.

Ricardo admits that the quality of El Aguila’s cup is largely due to the unique microclimate of the farm. With a high altitude, rich volcanic soil, plenty of rainfall and temperatures of 18 – 24 degrees Celsius, the farm has the perfect conditions to produce exceptional coffee. Throughout the farm Ingas and Copalchi have been planted to provide share and protect the coffee trees from direct harsh sunlight during the peak of the harvest. Fertilisation is only performed after careful soil analysis by the farms agronomist, and weed control is performed manually to avoid the use of herbicides. Other practices on the farm include erosion control using vegetative barriers, and the composting of pruned branches to create more organic matter for the farm.

We have been buying from El Aguila since 2012, and we have a huge amount of respect for Ricardo. The two things that resonate that most with us is his passion, and his fierce commitment to quality and doing things well. His intimacy with the farm and understanding of what is required to produce exceptional coffee is remarkable. But it is Ricardo’s commitment to the community that we find the most inspiring. In addition to employing local community members on the farm, the Ariz family also supports the Ojo de Agua community with workers and materials to maintain two access roads, as well as providing a water supply to the community from their water reservoirs. It is hoped that in the coming years they will be able to facilitate access to electricity for this community as well.

This particular lot that we have purchased from Ricardo is 100% Bourbon. It was carefully handpicked under the supervision of the farm’s manager, Antonio, who ensured only the very ripest cherries were selected. It was then delivered to the mill at El Carmen, where it was pulped and fermented for 18 hours and then washed and dried on patios in the sun for 16 days.” – Melbourne Coffee Merchants



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Single Origin – June – Sumatra Orang Utan


Country: Indonesia
Region: Aceh, Sumatra
Farm/Co-operative: Orang Utan Coffee
Altitude: 1,750–2,100m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Gayo Highland Grade 1
Processing Method: Wet Hulled
Supplier: Direct Trade

Tasting notes: Strawberry, juicy berry, brown sugar, pawpaw, herbaceous, lavender, honey, stone fruit.

Owing to intensive agricultural development and rapid deforestation, orangutans loose their natural habitat. The greatest threat is the rapid expansion of the palm oil plantation industry at the expense of rainforests.

The advancing destruction of tropical rainforests is threatening the existence of both orangutans and farmers alike. The Orang Utan Coffee Project helps farmers operate ecologically friendly coffee plantations without clearing rainforests.

Profits from the sale of Orang Utan Coffee are invested in organic certification, trainings such as organic farming methods, coffee production and processing, marketing, infrastructure and facilities such as processing, storage, and transport.

The Orang Utan coffee growers receive a bonus of at least 0.50 EUR/kg of green bean for their commitment to protect the tropical rainforest and cultivate the coffee according to the strict Orang Utan Guidelines. PanEco receives a bonus of at least 0.50 EUR per kg green bean of exported Orang Utan coffee to support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP).


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Single Origin – May – Panama Don Quijote Microlot


Country: Panama
Region: Chiriqui
Farm/Co-operative: Cafe De Eleta
Altitude: 1,750–2,100m above sea level
Species: Arabica
Varietal: Criollo (Typica)
Processing Method: Fully washed
Supplier: Direct Trade

Tasting notes: A very clean and sweet cup with notes of peach, shortbread, vanilla and hazelnut.

Cafe de Eleta is situated in Panama in a region called Piedra Candela, two hours north of David and one kilometre from the border with Costa Rica. The beauty of this special coffee farm is that it is set within a rainforest in La Amistad International Park. The farm was established in 1972 to breed cattle, sheep and pig livestock. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Eleta Group started growing coffee. Over the following years, the group bought more land and the farm grew to 420 hectares. The first coffee export from Cafe de Eleta took place in 1998 and was sent to Europe and the USA.

The Eleta Group is a well known family enterprise in Panama and was started by Don Fernando Eleta. Today it is a highly respected team within the business world as owners of media and insurance companies as well as breeding high level race horses. For the past twenty years the group has become renowned for its excellent specialty coffee. Cafe de Eleta has thousands of coffee plants planted over 150 hectares of their farm.

They have six varieties of coffee including Geisha, Bourbon, Jardin, Typica, as well as Catuai-Caturra which is a natural blend and takes up more than 85% of the farm. The Eleta Group built a beneficio (mill) onsite which allows for full control of their processing methods. The coffee from Cafe de Eleta is becoming world renowned and now exports to countries such as Italy, Japan, Holland, USA, and here in Australia where it is exclusive to Genovese Coffee.

Cafe de Eleta is active in supporting and developing their community. A high percentage of employees of the farm belongs to the ethnic Ngobe Bugle, one of the largest and most representative indigenous groups in the Republic of Panama. They live in the province of Chiriqui, bordering Costa Rica. During the harvest months, from October to March, Ngöbe families leave their lands and homes of origin to join the group of harvest on the coffee plantations of productive regions. Café de Eleta has built a residential complex with all facilities for employees and their families live in. This project includes areas of healthy recreation for the sport. We believe it is essential to support and develop this aspect among our people. It has implemented a program of both child and adult education. Ngobe collaborators have learned to read and write, and have received some basic math skills. After reconsidering the restrictions imposed by their culture, indigenous women collaborators are already included in the academic programs.

Cafe de Eleta’s Child Labour Free project states “We believe that we contribute in some way to the growth of Panama and its people, which is, without doubt, the best resource we have as a country. Any support we can provide to provide a better quality of life to our women, men and children is a contribution to national future.” The wages for coffee plantation workers in Panama is one of the highest in the region, with pickers able to earn up to $100US per day. Most of the Ngobe Bugle moves to coffee farms with their wives and small children. On our farm, children do not work: during the months when their parents are engaged in their work activities, children receive education, play and build relationships of mutual respect with the non-indigenous community in the area. The program for the eradication of child labor, holding coffee Eleta comprises aspects of education, nutrition, health, recreation and cultural exchange. The program takes place during the harvest months (November to February) and welcomes all children, sons and daughters of employees, aged between 4 and 14 years. For us it is essential to respect all children and educate them holistically as individuals, provide academic instruction and knowledge of urbanity, civic and moral values. To this end, we have established a partnership with Casa Esperanza, an NGO in Panama, which promotes the elimination of child labor and ensuring education for indigenous children in schools also are areas where children are cared while their parents work. By experience, and by a sincere desire to make positive changes in our people, we have built an educational center. Coffee Eleta covers expenses related to operating costs (including home for educators), food, educational and teaching materials, in addition to the daily transportation to and from school.


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