Here at 1980 m of altitude, the 1st place of Cup of Excellence CR was grown

With the silence only mixed with the chirping of some birds, under the shade of avocado trees, the batch of coffee that obtained the highest qualification in this Cup of Excellence Costa Rica 2021 edition was grown and processed. Here at Copey, Dota.

Dota is one of the cantons known as the Tarrazú region. Nine lots of the finalists come from here and the first three places are concentrated near the town of Copey, Dota.

The Gutiérrez Ureña family farm is hidden among the mountains of this area, marked by its road full of curves and long slopes. Who would say that behind that modest entrance was this little treasure: forest, mountain climate, idyllic and clear landscape, and the conditions suitable for an extraordinary coffee.

Don Iván and his children Iván and Marianela were waiting for us there, with a cautious and discreet attitude, I thank them a lot for letting us know about their coffee project. Especially because this is an atypical COE´s edition.

In fact, before telling the story of this coffee-growing family, we have to mention, unfortunately, what many already knew: that there was a tabulation error in the results of COE´s final classification. The ICAFE, auditor of the procedure, found the mistake, but sadly too late: when the award ceremony was already done.

The rectification affected the place of practically all finalists (some were even out of the 30 places that go to the auction, others were included or changed their position), and the most visible case was the first place, which -according to the correction – actually belongs to the Gutiérrez family; a batch of Geisha and SL28 in honey process.

Since we started La Cafeógrafa, we have covered the Cup of Excellence event and have always seen the rigorous work of the organization, so we regret this unpleasant situation (this is the first time happened in Costa Rica´s cupping). And we have also seen the dedicated work of each and every one of this coffee growers who decide to submit their coffee to evaluation, so there is a lot of enthusiasm and effort put into it.

So, I decided to leave intact the photographs that we took on award ceremony, even of the families that were left out of the finalists. Because I think they all deserve our support. We know that they all have the expertise and the merit of always work a quality coffee. From us, with the Monge family of La Lía Farm, we know their high quality coffee and we already have a pending appointment to go and portray a story that always deserves to be told.

I believe that continuing to bring you the winning voices is also a way of offering our encouragement to all coffee farmers that are committed to quality.

Agua y Manto. Fotografía por La Cafeógrafa
Parte de la familia de Agua y Manto. Fotografía propiedad de La Cafeógrafa. Para uso sin sello, contáctenos.

And that was precisely what Don Iván said to me while we toured the farm. “Our purpose has always been to work more for quality than for quantity.” They acquired this farm in 2014, not for coffee, but to enjoy its landscape (and no wonder, most of the farm is a private forest reserve) and to grow avocados. “We have always been coffee growers, but of more conventional varieties such as CR95, Caturra and Catuaí; so in 2016 we thought of using about 4 hectares to plant coffee and prepare high quality batches”, Iván Jr. specifies.

Going down the hills, you will find Geisha and SL28 plants. These two varieties of coffee are considered exotic. Not only because of the origin of the varieties (Africa), but also because of their taste profile. Many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of drink a cup of Geisha, what intense floral aromas! And others, like this Cafeógrafa, have among their favorites the SL28´s for its unforgettable intensity and sweetness.

SL28 (Kenia). Finca Agua y Manto.

La Esmeralda (specific name of the lot) is at 1980 meters of altitude, and it´s not the first time that its coffee has been processed to participate in the Cup of Excellence auction. Last year, Don Iván and his family obtained the 9th place and the lot was auctioned to Japanese buyers. “Our plan with coffee has always been to be able to produce high specialty batches,” says Don Iván.

They knew it was not going to be easy. Because deciding to grow these promising varieties comes at a high cost, not only investment, but also in patience, time and dedication. “These varieties require a lot of care but they aren´t highly productive,” he explains.

“Estas variedades exóticas requieren muchos cuidados y no son altamente productivas”, don Iván Gutiérrez.

So, after deciding to plant exotic coffee in the shade of the avocado trees, it would take approximately 3-4 years for these plants to be ready to give their best. So it was.

Always believing in its commitment to quality, the family has built a wet processing station and a drying area for raised beds. Here they process and prepare the 90 bushels that the farm gives in total. Of these, only 11 were dedicated to the 2021 Cup of Excellence process. “We had learned from the previous year, so we entered this batch with hopes of improving qualification score.”

Several of Copey coffee growers have told me that these plants react positively both the land and the climate of these coffee plantations; the hours of sun they receive in the summer, the climate tempered by the slope of the Pacific Ocean and flanked by the high mountains that divide it from the Atlantic climate.

The day we visited this family project called Agua y Manto (water and mantle), it was a cloudy day but with a pleasant cold temperature, perhaps this is how these exotic coffee trees perceive it (that´s my poetic interpretation, of course).
The lot received 90.89 points, this is a Presidential Award (when they reach the 90 points given by the tasters) and together with the other 29 finalists, it will be auctioned electronically on next July 29th.

Thanks to Don Iván and his wife, Olga Ureña. To his children Iván Daniel, Emilio, Marianela and Mariana, for opening their doors to us. Agua y Manto is also developing their coffee brand here in Costa Rica, so we have the opportunity to taste their efforts! Follow them at @ cafe.aguaymanto on Instagram and Facebook.

Marianela Gutiérrez de Café Agua y Manto.