For over three generations, the Montero family has been producing coffee in the picturesque mountains of Tarrazú, Costa Rica. Sitting at an altitude of 1,800 m above sea level, “La Pastora” micro-region is rich in volcanic soil and known to offer the best of Costa Rican coffee. Eli, the grandfather, worked throughout his youth with coffee and so did his son, Carlos Montero. Their passion for coffee coursed in their veins, but it was impossible to ignore the hardships in the coffee business. And while Carlos watched his father struggle, he set out to create opportunities for himself and ultimately the farm.
Carlos is a visionary, traveler, swimming coach to children in the community, a passionate farmer, inspiring entrepreneur, and a loving dad to 3 children. In the harvest year of 2014 to 2015, Carlos and his family took their biggest risk yet to leave the regional cooperatives to become specialty coffee producing farm. This way, they could regulate their own coffee, focus on innovative processing methods and ensure the quality of each coffee bean. They were leaving the mass production concept behind to uphold the “quality over quantity” mindset.
In order to maintain the operation of the specialty coffee farm, Carlos and his entire family are deeply involved at Don Eli Coffee farm, from the day-to-day running of the farm to seeking potential buyers and managing the marketing and sales of their coffee. In comparison to supplying their beans to regional cooperatives, they were able to get rewarded a higher payment for their work as independent specialty coffee producers (from previously about $3 per kilo to about $8 per kilo currently; however, their earnings still, only represent about 13% of the total revenue from the sales of coffee).
Their independence from regional cooperatives also meant more work to ensure the quality of the coffee beans as well as going the extra mile to seek potential buyers and marketing their product. Marianela, the oldest daughter, ever since then, has been heavily involved with the running of the business from contacting potential buyers, cupping regularly to ensure the quality of their beans to marketing. Although she is currently living outside of Tarazzu to reach out to a wider market, they are always in contact discussing ways to expand and run their farm more sustainably.
Additionally, the farm of Montero family is working to get certifications for their farms like NAMA Café. They know how important it is to have a great soil without chemicals, so they are working on sustainable practices in their farms; currently, they have a nano lot where they haven’t used any chemicals for many years as an experiment for the future and want to keep this nano-lot named “Chamaco."
The family envisions to successfully expand the family's farm, to one day, open an educational center for those that are interested in understanding and learning more about the coffee production. Their educational center would welcome everyone from around the country and the world to come experience and learn about coffee from its plantation to roasting and cupping.