You've had the chance to read about several past trips to Costa Rica, so this time we'll take you on a photo journey...let's get going!
Three years. That was the mark, the goal. As a barista, one of my employee benefits is a visit to origin after three years of employment. Those who work behind the scenes in coffee may not be phased by an origin trip, but for a barista it is something uniquely different. It gives a new perspective, a new purpose to what we do day-in and day-out...it takes something that is at the risk of seeming menial and mundane and makes it meaningful and worthwhile. This was my experience on my first origin trip to Costa Rica with CREMA. This is my story.
We Crema folk spend a lot of time with the coffees in our shop. We get to know what each one looks like – the size, the color, the shape. We can distinguish many of them by sight. But this fruit that we take such pride in, that we feel we know so well, have a past life. Four consecutive years of travelling to origin, this time to Costa Rica and Panama, have shown us this. Varieties, strategically selected by the farmer to both grow well and be tasty, are planted and nurtured into bloom. They grow up in the rainforest and spend their earliest days basking in the Costa Rican sun and a flurry of Spanish, Cabécar, and Bribri. Each and every cherry is sought out by a discerning eye and plucked by practiced fingers. The pickers, sorters, and dryers - they know these same coffees, but in a different way.
I got on the plane in 2015, but I think this trip started for me sometime in 1996.
I was a senior in high school. I had a free period in the middle of the morning and a car to get off campus. So a couple of times a week I would drive four blocks to the donut shop. I would get a glazed donut, a cake donut, and a cup of coffee. The coffee was, of course, beige. It would shoot out of a spout whenever the donut-guy pressed the button on his automatic french vanilla cappuccino machine. It was sweet and syrupy and caffeinating and I would drink it in the car and try not to spill any on my shirt before class. That was coffee.
They met us with pupusas and cafes in the San Salvador airport, so things were off to a good start.
Our three, shall we say, amigos were co-owner Ben Lehman, and CREMA’s captains of Roasting and Green Buying, Sean Stewart and Winston Harrison. Our hosts were “Don” Miguel Menendez, his son Miguel, and all of his warm, eager family...