Farm: Various Members of Coope Victoria
Varietal: Catuai, Caturra,Villa Sarchi, Sarchimores, Obata mostly
Processing: Fully washed & dried in guardiolas
Altitude: 1,300 to 1,600 metres above sea level
Owner: Coope Victoria
Town / City: Grecia
Region: Central & West Valley
Overall: Peanut Butter, milk chocolate and apple
Valle de Sol (Coope Victoria) - Costa Rica
Café Valle del Sol is a blend produced by various smallholder members of Coope Victoria. These producers all farm land in one of Costa Rica’s most important coffee zones: the Western Central Valley. Area under cultivation for each producer varies greatly, however, all the contributing producers benefit from high altitudes of 1,300 to 1,600 metres above sea level, and their farms are located on are located on soils of volcanic origin, rich with minerals. These are the very important primary requirements for being included in the Valle del Sol blend. Another important requirement is that at least 99% of the coffee cherry received from each contributing producer during the harvest season at the mill is fully ripe and perfectly red. If it is not, it will not be included in the lot! The farms will also all be planted with higher quality varieties of Arabica, such as Caturra, Catuaí and Villa Sarchi, among others. Finally, contributing producers all take exceptional care with their coffee farms, using the best practices to ensure an amazing harvest.
Valle del Sol means ‘Sunny Valley,’ a brand name that has long belonged to Coope Victoria, who represent and work with some of the best farmers in the area around Grecia. Coope Victoria provides their producer members with technical assistance and guidance in every aspect of coffee farming. They perform soil sampling in February for all producer partners. Based on the data generated, advice is given regarding fertilisation, shade control and other applications. Most of the farms in the program also apply organic fertilisers based on coffee husk and sugar cane that are treated with microorganisms, provided by the cooperative, that decompose the organic matter and add vital nutrients back into the soil. In addition to a host of other services, including regular training and access to information, the Cooperative also helps producers access new varieties of coffee trees that are more resistant to disease.
Low productivity in the region is one of the biggest problems producers face. As such, the Coop helps fund and encourages renovation practices. With the Coop’s help crops are, on average, renewed every 15 years with pruning every 5 years on the recommendation of the cooperative's technicians. Another activity is the trialling of several Sarchimor lines developed by the Victoria Cooperative (Vic2, Vic4, Vic5, Vic14, San Isidro27, San Isidro33, San Isidro 48, among others). These have been specially developed so as to be disease resistant while maintaining a good cup quality.
During the harvest season, coffee is selectively hand harvested and delivered to the Cooperative’s wet mill (usually around 10 km away, depending on the producer) on the same day that it is picked. For washed coffees, the cherries are pulped and then fermented for around 12 hours. After this, the coffee is washed in clean water and is then delivered to dry. Due to the often wet weather conditions, the coffee is dried at slow, even temperatures in Guardiolas fed by indirect heat. Finally, it is stored in parchment for up to a month to ensure that humidity is even and correct before it is milled for export.
About Coope Victoria
The Cooperativa Agrícola Industrial Victoria R.L (Coope Victoria) was Costa Rica’s very first cooperative. Its roots date back to 1905 and the German-owned Finca Victoria, which was primarily a coffee and sugarcane farm. In order to process these products for export and internal consumption, the then-owners installed a mill on the premises. As the milling capacity was far greater than the farm’s needs, they began buying the products of neighbouring small and medium sized farmers.
When the Second World War began, the German owners could not continue operating their private mill, which brought about a great deal of consternation among the farmers who were relying on them as buyers. The implications for the region, economically speaking, were great. As such, the producers organised and went to ask for help from the state and the state financial institutions. They needed funding to start a cooperative.
On October 12, 1943, Coope Victoria R.L. was founded.
Today the organisation represents approximately 3,000 members, all of whom are small and medium producers of coffee and/or sugarcane from the Western zone of Costa Rica. The coop’s area of influence includes Greece, Poás, Valverde Vega, San Ramón, Alajuela, San Carlos, Naranjo and Atenas. The organisation reaches nearly 15,000 indirect beneficiaries through their various social and environmental sustainability projects. They are considered a driver of economic and social development of the area, generating indirect jobs and lending upward mobility to the local economy.
In addition to enabling access to technical support and inputs, the cooperative runs a variety of other services for members and the surrounding community, including a service station, the Camposanto Garden of Peace Las Mercedes, and the CoopeVictoria Event Center. They also help provide medical services to members and produce bio fuels.