Country: Costa Rica Region: Turrialba Producer/Farm: Diego Robelo, Aquiares Estate Varietal: H1 Centroamericano F1 Hybrid Process: 48 Fermentation with Yeast Culture Tasting Notes: Green Tea, Citrus, Herbal, Vanilla Certifications: Carbon Neutral Farm, Rain Forest Alliance Altitude: 1200 meters
The name Aquiares means “land between rivers” in the Huetar indigenous language, and Aquiares is commonly referred to as “Aquiares Coffee and Community.” It is the largest farm in Costa Rica and home to 1,800 people.
Although the farm was founded in 1890, Alfonso Robelo is the man responsible for its transformation a century later. Alfonso began building the Aquiares community in the 1980’s on the enchanting slopes of the Turrialba volcano, a lush area of forests, rivers, fauna, and bright flora.
Alfonso challenged the status quo, transforming the relationship between land owner and farm workers. He brought a visionary approach to Aquiares, a farm suffering from low prices and instability. Aquiares had more than 200 employee homes on the farm, but because none owned their home, there was great insecurity in the workforce. Alfonso saw this as an opportunity to strengthen the company by having people feel pride in the coffee they produce. He evolved the farm into a small town where workers purchased their own homes. Today, Aquiares remains a model of sustainable agriculture.
Nowadays Alfonso’s son, Diego, manages the farm. Under his lead, the farm has taken a fresh approach to specialty coffee and exploring the farm’s potential. Through excellent agricultural management, embracing new varieties, and experimenting with processing, Aquiares has become a trailblazer among specialty coffee producers in Costa Rica and all of Central America.
Aquiares focuses on carbon neutrality and measures its greenhouse gas emissions to calculate its carbon emissions against its offsets.
Centroamericano H1 is an F1 hybrid variety generated by crossing the Sarchimor T-5296 and a wild Rume Sudan variety. Yeast culture is a novel fermentation technique first experimented by Aquiares last harvest. Their team used a common strain of beer yeast to ferment coffee in an anaerobic environment for 48 hours. During the process, pH and temperature were carefully monitored until the point where the coffee was ready to be washed and dried using mechanical slow-drying in a guardiola rotating mechanical dryer. The Aquiares team believes that the flavours created by yeast fermentation can open the door to many opportunities for the future of coffee processing and they will continue to experiment to offer new and exciting coffees.