Finca Las Gravilias of AFAORCA, Costa Rica

The Association of Organic Families of the Caraigres Hills (AFAORCA) is an organization based outside of San Jose in the Tarrazu Valley, Costa Rica. In total, 28 families make up the membership and produce exclusively certified organic coffee. AFAORCA was founded in 1996 and is was one of the pioneers of the “Micromill Revolution” in Costa Rica during the 1990s.

In 2006, AFAORCA constructed a new head office inside a beautiful new building that houses their own café and roastery. Owning their own café allows AFAORCA to employ some community members during the “off” season as well as providing an educational opportunity for Costa Ricans to learn about Fair Trade and Organic agriculture.

AFAORCA has been dedicated to organic agriculture and community development since their inception. When we asked them why they practice organic methods during our visit this past January they replied: “For our health, our families, our environment and our happiness!” Currently the organization is meeting 70% of their compost needs, they collect and process their coffee cherry pulp and skins during the milling process, and recently installed a new mechanical drying system that dries their coffee by burning the “shells” of previously processed green coffee beans. They recently visited COMSA to learn about their organic methods and strategies for dealing with the coffee leaf rust epidemic.

At Just Us!, all of the coffee we purchase from AFAORCA comes from the Marin family’s third generation farm, Finca Las Gravilias. Roberto Marin Jimenez, his son, Fabrizio and his two daughters Estela and Zahira all farm different sections of the 12 hectares in coffee production. Bananas, papaya, granadilla and other fruit trees are grown amongst the coffee to produce food for the family and community, shade and fertility for the coffee, and habitats for the birds, mammals and plant life that abound on their certified organic oasis. The farm is named after the “gravilias” tree that casts a broad shadow for coffee trees and provides lots of nectar for bees from its plentiful purple blossoms that begin opening in June every year.