Tucked away in the West Valley region of Costa Rica, Carlos Alpizar grows coffee. He specifically grows the Caturra varietal at an altitude of 1600 meters. Acquiring the family business, Carlos is, thankfully, the exception to an expectation of exploitation in the coffee industry. Many coffee farmers are paid so little, that it could be deemed slave labor more than wage work. This is largely due to coffee’s cultivation history being marred with slavery and the result of volatile market prices. But as prefaced, Carlos is more fortunate than most coffee farmers due to Thrive Farmers.
Thrive Farmers does not follow the traditional production chain, where multiple middlemen buy the beans and sell them for higher prices. Instead, Thrive sells their farmers beans on consignment and give the farmers a percentage of the final sale. In other words, they represent the international farmer in America. The result is farmers who care about quality, since better beans will get better prices, and farmers who are paid much more than industry standard.
Take Carlos for example. At Three Tree Coffee, we bought, roasted and sold some of Carlos’ coffee. This specific coffee was processed using a White Honey method, where the beans are dried in the cherry for a short time before being stripped for a final drying stage. The resulting taste was an incredibly balanced cup with notes of brown sugar, butter, and plums. (We have SADLY roasted our last batch of that lot on 01/25/17). Not only does the coffee taste amazing, but Carlos was paid nearly DOUBLE the fair trade minimum price, which is already higher than industry standard.
Thrive is also invested in the training process to help farmers get higher prices. Here is what Carlos had to say about his farm: “Our product is a reflection of the efforts of the family, for many years we have spent heavily to achieve increased quality. Thanks to the good quality, we have managed to acquire good prices, and we invest in these quality improvement.”
It is a simple concept with huge ramifications. Give someone a fish, they eat for a day. Teach someone to fish (or grow exceptionally good coffee), they eat for a lifetime. The practices taught by Thrive is raising the value of many farmers coffee beans, thus setting them up for success.
Though we are sad to see this Costa Rican coffee go, we are excited to partner with Thrive again in the future to continue to Empower our Farmers.