The farms in the San Jeronimo co-operative sit in the area surrounding Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest mountain. High up at this altitude, the soil is rich and makes for growing excellent speciality coffee. The co-operative is named after the village where the farmers of the coffee live - San Jeronimo.
The co-operative was formed back in 2005 when seven coffee producers from San Jeronimo decided to invest in a micro-mill. The area had traditionally always produced coffee cherries that were sold to multinational companies that mixed their coffee grown at high altitudes with cherries with lesser quality from lower regions. Keen to move away from this model and obtain a price premium for the high-quality coffee they were producing - the seven producers worked together to obtain a loan to buy the equipment needed to process their coffee cherries themselves.
Roy Solis, who leads the co-operative explains how the hard work has paid off: “Finding the capital to start the mill was not easy but once the equipment was established, experimentation and hard work resulted in delicious coffee”. He also explains the change in picking practices to ensure the best quality coffee: “It has not been easy to convince producers to collect only the mature ripe cherries. We have been working hard at educating our neighbours about the correct collection methods and quality requirements of the mill”.
Union has now been working with San Jeronimo since 2009, when they were introduced to one another through Exclusive Coffees, a friend and local partner in Costa Rica.