I recently went on the Coffee: From Bean to Cup study abroad in Costa Rica. On the trip, we visited several coffee farmers and learned about coffee production. This blog post is going to be about my favorite farmer of the entire trip, Oldemar.
In most cases, coffee farmers sell the coffee cherries that they produce to Co-Ops or buyers that then take care of the actual production of the coffee. Doing this is not very beneficial to the coffee growers because they receive very little for a cajuela (the typical form of measurement of coffee cherries. A cajuela that is full of coffee cherries weighs about 30 pounds and an experienced coffee picker can pick about 10 cajuelas a day (this is during the peak of the season). Buyers of coffee cherries will pay the farmers around $2 a cajuela…this means that the farmer can only make about $20 a day if he is picking by himself and even less if he has to pay a portion of the funds to his hired pickers. It really all depends on the size of the farm, but you would have to pick A LOT of cherries if this is your only source of income!
What I really loved about Oldemare’s farm is that he picks the cherries, de-pulps and dries them, and roasts them all by himself. This allows him to receive direct profits for his hard work. Of course, he has pickers to help him out but he sells his own roasted coffee in his little “cafe” that is so quaintly located in his house. 🙂 He only sells to people that come to his house to buy coffee, and 95% of these people are tourists walking by or large groups from UGA Costa Rica. We ARE is livelihood. It feels good to know that the 15 pounds of coffee I bought (all from Oldemare) went directly to the farmer and his family. So if you ever visit UGA Costa Rica, please make sure to visit Oldemare and buy as much coffee as you can. It really is the best!