Costa Rica – Microlot – Aguilera Brothers Micromill – Finca Angelina – Villa Sarchi – Honey B13949
The Aguilera Brothers are a set of Cup of Excellence–winning siblings who carry on their longtime family tradition by working together to plant, pick, and process coffees from their combined 60 hectares of farmland: Their father was one of the first to plant coffee in this area in the 1940s. The 12 Aguilera brothers and sisters divide the work among themselves, with two of the brothers,Felipe and Erasmo, overseeing most of the mill operation as well as the drying areas. There are about 20 varieties sprinkled throughout the family’s primary crop of Villa Sarchi, including Gesha and various different strains of the highly productive and disease-resistant hybrid family of Catimors. (Caturra x Timor Hybrid.)
The family typically hires around 40–100 pickers from the same families every year, depending on the size of the harvest, and Erasmo describes a unique approach to paying the pickers: The Aguileras pay higher prices for green cherry than they do for buckets of red, as a way of incentivizing the pickers to do an exquisite sort when they bring their cherry to be weighed. Because there are areas of the farms that are remote enough that they can’t be accessed as easily or repeatedly, Erasmo and his brothers know they would have fewer chances to do immediate selective picking for the ripest fruit. This way, the pickers make a better wage, and the sorting is done with care and attention so only the best cherry makes it to the mill.
The Aguileras do some of their drying on tarps that are laid out along one side of a large field below their micromill, where the coffee shares space with a soccer field that the family has built for use by the pickers as well as the local community and school groups. They are very active in the community and their family spirit extends beyond the farms and the mill.
For more information about coffee production in Costa Rica, visit our Costa Rica page.