La Pastora coffee is produced in Los Santos, a small part of the well-known Tarrazu coffee region of central Costa Rica. The community who grows and processes these beans is located around the city of San Marcos in the mountainous Tarrazú canton in the San José province. The Pirris river nearby provides water to the highland region, making it perfect for coffee production and other types of agriculture. The mountains make part of the Talamanca Sierra, which runs through Costa Rica and Panama. La Pastora coffee is grown between 1300 and 1800 meters (hence, strictly hard bean or SHB). Predominant varieties in the region are Caturra and Catuai. The coffee is selected and screened following the European preparation – briefly: EP – quality standard. This allows for 4 secondary defect equivalents and no primary defects.
In the Los Santos de Tarrazu region, coffee producers united in COOPETARRAZU. The cooperative was created in 1960 by 228 smallholder farmers. They grouped to stand stronger together to face the challenges of coffee production and find better markets for their coffees. After more than 50 years, the cooperative has grown to be the largest cooperative in the region. Nowadays, they provide a structure for more than 3000 smallholder producers.
Through the Fairtrade certification process, Coopetarrazu has centralized all industrial and commercial activities to environmentally sustainable practices. This way, the cooperative wanted to increase the quality of their product and community members’ quality of life. In 2006, the cooperative established the Coffee Culture Quality of Life Sustainability Plan. Through this plan, the coop aims to track their environmental impact, implement better practices and create a culture of environmental awareness. As part of their strategy to increase productivity, COOPETARRAZU offers various training programs for its members and engineering visits to farms.
Through the Quality of Life Sustainability Plan, COOPETARRAZU provides free soil analyses to its members. These customized soil analyses show farmers the impact of the surrounding ecosystems on their soil. In turn, coffee growers learn to adjust their practices according to their specific soil needs.
Next to that, COOPETARRAZÚ invested in organic fertilizer to supply to the cooperative’s producers. The process of erosion has greatly affected productivity. Through this organic material from the fertilizer, soil fertility is partly restored. Additionally, in collaboration with the Coffee Institute and other organizations, COOPETARRAZÚ is testing out new varieties of coffee that offer higher productivity, disease resistance, and in particular, quality cup scores.