In a small village, next to Piedra de Rivas you find Microbeneficio Cerro Paraguas (MICEPA). This micro-mill became operational in 2011. Union has been with MICEPA ever since.
The group MICEPA processes coffee of 10 farmers, originally there are 7 members but some of the sons of the farmers started farming their own plots. Together they have around 50 hectares. This group produces fully washed coffees, which are processed in the micro mill ‘’Cerro Paraguas’’.
Micepa is located closely to Chirripó National Park, one of Costa Rica’s national parks. The park is named after its most prominent feature, Cerro Chirripo, which at 3,820 metres (12,530 ft) is the highest mountain in Costa Rica. Due to the close proximity of the park taking care of nature and the environment is key. All coffee is shade grown, and farmers implement practices such as terraces to protect the soil from erosion.
We have been visiting MICEPA for 10 years now and have been happy to see their progress. They are very well organized and re-invest their profits into their community, families but also the micro mill. They continuously improve their equipment, especially their drying area this was necessary as their volume has four folded over the past 10 years.
Before the micro mill was constructed in the village, farmers would sell their coffee cherries to large companies. Having no control over the price and quality of their coffee, it was hard to live from the earnings of coffee. Several farmers went to work as migrant workers in the USA, but they returned and invested their money in the micro mill. By processing the coffee themselves, and exporting it directly coffee has become profitable for them, they no longer feel the need to separate themselves from their families and find work elsewhere.