Carlos Barrantes's family has owned and operated the Herbazu micromill since the early 2000s, and in the early 2010s, Don Carlos decided to go off and work independently, with a laser focus on the kinds of coffees he wants to produce. He and his wife, Diana, own five small farms and La Perla Del Cafe Micromill—"micro" being the key word here. Not only do the Barrantes only produce about 300 bags a year, their dedication to quality and incredibly high mean they focus on quality over quantity in all ways. They even work with the exact same group of pickers every year, a group of 45 indigenous people from Panama who travel to the farms for work every season, and with whom the Barrantes keep in touch, like family, the rest of the year.
These close relationships and exact practices allow them to work meticulously: Pickers focus on the cherry that's the color of sangre de toro, or "bull's blood," and Don Carlos and Doña Diana trust the pickers so much they don't even have float tanks at the mill. Workers and visitors alike are made to cover or remove their shoes before stepping into the drying area to avoid trailing dust and dirt, and the receiving and depulping stations at the mill are sparkling clean, as though they were brand new.
The Barrantes' obsession with details translates in the cup year after year. Why do they pay such close attention? "We are not just selling a product," says Diana. "We are selling a beverage that someone is drinking." The couple appreciates the experience that a very fine coffee can offer a consumer, and they want to ensure that every coffee that leaves the mill is memorable and remarkable in its flavor.
The mill produces mostly honey and natural coffees, and Carlos likes to experiment with different varieties: He currently grows Gesha, Villa Lobos, Typica, Villa Sarchi, and SL-28. (He was the first producer in Costa Rica to be given SL-28, and rather than hoard the special variety for himself, he has distributed seeds to friends and neighbors for the past few years.) Don Carlos believes that growing nontraditional varieties, in addition to focusing on honey and natural processing, will be what allows him to differentiate La Perla's coffee from others in the region.
For more information about coffee production in Costa Rica, visit our Costa Rica Origin Page.