We are so very blessed to be able to buy from some of the best coffee farmers that are out there. One of our newest farmer partners is Franklin Garbanzo, known as Don Franco. Don Franco is the producer ofthe Garbanzo Nuñez estate (the Nuñez? Franklin’s wife’s maiden name). We met Don Franco through our friends at Thrive Farmer’s Coffee and are forever grateful for it! One of Thrive Farmers favorite quotes is, “Know who grows.” So we’d like to introduce you.
Don Franco’s farm sits on top of a little mountain in the famed Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. Over ten years ago Don Franco led fourteen farmers of the little valley of La Violetta in building a beneficio in their community. A befeficio is a coffee mill where the coffee fruit is taken and processed into the green coffee that comes to us roasters. Many coffee farmers sell just the coffee fruit or have to pay an additional cost to have their coffee processed, with no control over how the processing is done. By coming together and building their own mill, the farmers of La Violetta now have direct control over how the coffee is processed so that they can ensure they highest quality. It also cuts out a middle man, giving farmers more for their crop.
Franklin describes the first time they operated the mill, “We had to process at night in the cold, wet and mud because the new machine was using all of the electricity available to the village.” – See more at: http://www.thrivefarmers.com/thrive-farmers/meet-our-farmers/#sthash.rM5vcu22.dpuf
The farmers of La Violetta chose to take another step together and have partnered with Thrive Farmer’s Coffee, allowing them to sell their product directly to the roaster. That’s us! We buy coffee processed at the El Cedro mill that comes directly from Don Franco’s farm.
We recently had a chance to talk with Don Franco and ask him some questions about his farm, coffee, Thrive, and sustainability. These words come from Don Franco, with a little help in translation.
Cup to Cup: How long have you and your family been in coffee?
Don Franco: I am (Franklin) the third generation of five total, my family has worked about fifty years in coffee.
Cup to Cup: Tell us about the mill in La Violetta and how it got started.
Don Franco: It has been nearly 15 years since the inception of El Beneficio El Cedro. Coffee prices were low, and farmers tried to find a solution, they tried with other crops, but it did not work, the only good crop for these lands was the coffee. Then of all farmers only fifteen decided to found El Beneficio El Cedro, trying to get better prices for their coffee, offering quality, not quantity.
Cup to Cup: Tell us about how the land is important to you and what you are doing to preserve it.
Don Franco: The land here, is all, is our life, we work in the land everyday.
What am I doing to preserve it? Nestled in harmony with nature without the use of chemicals that could harm the life of both vegetation and animals.
Cup to Cup: How do you choose the varietals of coffee you grow, and what is your favorite?
Don Franco: We choose the type of coffee plant on our farm, depending on many factors, such as climate, altitude, but above all cup quality, maintaining seed diversity. My favorite is the Gesha variety.
Cup to Cup: Finally, what is something you would like people in the United States who buy your coffee to know? Is there something you think we are missing or don’t understand about the coffee industry?
Franklin: I would like them to know where it is produced and the type of process used, who produces the coffee they are consuming, and be familiar with the variety they are drinking.
Also, to understand the effort that all farm families make to produce the best coffee in the world, and thanks to the coffee our children can go to school and university.
Also I’d like you to understand how little support that coffee agriculture in our country receives.
It’s folks like Don Franco that are making differences right now in the world of coffee, helping farmers improving quality for better prices to help secure their future and that of their children. We extremely happy to be working with Don Franco and hope to have a long relationship!