We recently had the pleasure of visiting Don César at his micromill Don Pepe, a property located in the San Isidro de Leon Cortez region of Costa Rica and named for his late grandfather.
As soon as we arrived, Don César welcomed us into his living room, offering us a seat and a platter of vibrant fresh fruits. As we spoke about our different roles in the coffee industry, he expressed his gratitude for the importers and roasters that use his coffees worldwide. We learned that in addition to owning and managing the micromill, Don César also maintains a strong presence and leadership role in his community.
After welcoming us, Don César let us out into his farm, an expanse of coffee trees planted in a large spiraling formation and named Finca Caracol (Spanish for “snail farm”). After wandering through the trees, we came to the mill where we saw the depulping machine in action.There, we handled carefully selected and hand-picked cherries, their deep red forms leaving dark mahogany-colored stains on our hands. These perfectly ripe fruits, or sangre de toro (Spanish for “bull's blood”) are washed and processed through the mill. First, the cherries go through a depulping cycle where the fruit itself is shucked from the green coffee bean buried inside. Next, these beans travel through a demucilager, a large cylindrical machine that cleans off the mucilage (the protective honey-like layer that encasing beans) before the beans are rinsed and dried.
Throughout our time on his farm, Don César was quick to credit his workers, family, and exporters for his success. He kindly introduced us one of his workers, a gentleman that had immigrated from Nicaragua to find work in Costa Rica. Don César insisted that his farm and mill would not be capable of producing such high-quality coffee if it wasn't for his hardworking crew.
We were grateful for the opportunity to not only witness one of our favorite coffees’ path from tree to mill to bag, but also to meet the strikingly humble and kind-hearted individual behind such a complex, delicious product. We are proud to roast and offer Don César's coffee here at Dune Coffee Roasters. We highly recommend you pick up a bag of Don Pepe. While you enjoy each cup, maybe take a moment to think about the journey those beans took from Don César’s trees to his mill to our roaster, and finally, into your cup.