When Glenn Jampol heard that a finca – the Spanish word for farm – right across from his inn in the province of Heredia was for sale, he and his wife, Teri, jumped on buying it. Their reasoning, however, was not mainly for value, but more so with conservation.
The finca was being used for growing coffee, and its sale was happening at a bad time for this industry. “In the early and mid nineties, the coffee futures market went really low,” remembers Jampol, co-owner of the now called Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort. The resulting impact was said to be so great that family-run Costa Rican coffee businesses couldn’t afford to stay in operation and sold their farms to urban housing developers to get out of debt.
Describing himself as a “big environmentalist,” Jampol was worried about the possibility of a gated community built next door to his property. “I was very concerned that … it would happen here.”
Having bought the neighboring finca, Glenn and Teri spent the next few years converting it to a shade grown coffee farm following the landscape’s natural topography to avoid erosion and water waste. And they were able to get advice from very reliable sources.
“It turned out that all of our gardeners and workers had generations of families that worked on coffee farms,” Jampol says.
For example, a poró tree is what Jampol refers to as a “tremendous nitrogen fixer” in that it takes in nitrogen out of the air and feeds it to the plants. Birds also drink the nectar from the flowers of the poró, and the trees provide a sanctuary for them. Meanwhile, plantains and bananas offer food for people and animals, sort of like a functioning, mini-ecological park.
Today, the finca is a 30-acre (12-hectare) organic Arabica coffee farm — the only type of bean allowed to be grown in Costa Rica, by law — with more than 5,000 native trees planted on the property grounds.
Speaking of grounds, the first bags of Finca Rosa Blanca’s own coffee came out about 13 years ago. The harvesting cycle starts in early or mid October with handpicking beginning and then usually continued through January. Handpicked, red ripened beans are then dried on racks, milled, pulped and then roasted with batches ready for bagging in February. The entire process is done onsite.
Grounds care, too. Worm beds provide compost and cut trees are turned into mulch, plus organic chicken manure and calcium are among what’s used to maintain soil PH levels.
Touring The Coffee Plantation
Guests at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort are able to see and learn about the coffee production through guided tours of the neighboring finca. During the period of redeveloping the coffee farm, visitors had started asking about the farm and if they could see it.
As interest increased, a coffee expert was hired to give tours explaining the process step by step. The tour concludes back at the hotel with a coffee cupping session where guests can learn about a proper tasting. With this coffee cupping, guests sip two differing roasted servings of Finca Rosa Blanca coffee to learn how to evaluate aroma and flavor profiles.
In terms of its place in the global coffee market, Costa Rica is small and not having much volume (Brazil and Vietnam are the leading producers). Yet among its own population, Jampol said that its native coffee is much in favor and found in any place from a mom and pop eatery to a fine dining establishment.
“Almost anywhere you go, you will always get a good cup of coffee,” smiles Jampol.
With Finca Rosa Blanca’s coffee, I find a chocolaty and nutty aroma with a slight citrus aftertaste. It’s also lower in acidity, but not bitter. The Jampols are not only proud of the delicious experience they can offer, but that their coffee is labeled certified organic by the BCS OKO Garantie and sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance (who honored them in 2010 with their Sustainable Standard-Setters award) and ICAFE, the Costa Rica National Organization for Coffee.
A Costa Rican Farmstay
Finca Rosa Blanca opened in 1989, four years after Jampols came to Costa Rica for the first time and fell in love with the country (they’re now residents). Today, their inn contains an assortment of master and junior suites plus two villas along with a spa, swimming pool and restaurant/bar area.
Throughout the hillside property, with lovely views of neighboring San Jose, guests will find artistic touches. As a nod to Jampols’ interest in art and architecture, various building walls are graced with colorful murals. Plus find displays of various arts and crafts and antiques in various areas.
The resort’s operations also follow sustainable measures. The property belongs to Costa Rica’s Sustainable Tourism Certification program, and has achieved a percent score of 100 in complying with its requirements. As of now, Finca Rosa Blanca coffee is sold locally and at the inn, but plans are under way to open an online store.
Bonus Costa Rica Travel Resources:
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