One of our favorite coffees on tap these days is the Costa Rica La Loma—an aromatic, flavorful single origin with a delightful citrus finish. But La Loma is more than just a good coffee—it’s a relationship. La Loma is the name of the farm where farmer Alfonso “Poncho” Granados grows the Costa Rican coffee that we enjoy here at the Hound.
Earlier this year, roaster/owner Steve Fritzen and a group of coffee roasters from around the country went down to the La Loma Farm in Costa Rica to visit Poncho and his family. The trip was a remarkable experience for all involved–the relationships formed were themselves worth the trip. Along with lifelong friendship formed, the Coffee Hound purchased all (sans one bag) of Poncho Granados’ upcoming harvest! However, the story of how the Hound and Poncho began their relationship is just as delightful as the coffee.
Poncho and his family have been farming coffee in Costa Rica for generations—selling their coffee to distributors who would combine it with coffee from dozens of other farms. But recently, due to a host of factors, the Granados farm, La Loma, was in financial trouble—facing foreclosure. That was until Tim O’Brien of The Green Coffee Vault connected his friend Poncho with The Coffee Hound.
Tim is an American who lived and farmed coffee in Costa Rica for fifteen years, only recently returning to the United States to start The Green Coffee Vault—a distribution company with the vision of connecting small farmers directly with small roasters.
As it happens, Poncho’s farm produces remarkably high quality coffee, good enough coffee to sell to specialty shops at specialty prices. Through taking a risk and changing their generations-old business model, La Loma partnered exclusively with the Coffee Hound. This risk, in the words of Granados, saved the coffee farm and started a wonderful friendship. As a family-run operation, they didn’t have the resources to compete with the larger farms in the region—even though La Loma’s coffee is of the highest quality. By selling directly to the Coffee Hound, they were able to both sell their beans at increased specialty prices and cut out profiteering middlemen.
Steve went down to La Loma with a handshake agreement to purchase the upcoming crop. The trip served to build wonderful relationships with Poncho, his family, and other roasters and baristas (including World Champion Pete LaCota, who joined Steve on the trip), hopefully building trust between other farms and roasters to increase the practice of direct trade. By partnering with La Loma in relationship-based direct trade we are able to help a top-caliber farm survive, provide top-caliber coffee to you (our customers!), and participate in ethical, mutually beneficial trade! The hope is that more farms and more roasters would take up this practice for the good of coffee farmers and coffee roasters around the world.
The new crop of La Loma coffee, which was being harvested while Steve was on the farm, will come to the Hound this June. Until then, be sure to try our current batch of Costa Rica La Loma—a great coffee with a great story behind it.