In Costa Rica, the changes micro-mills have had on specialty coffee is unbelievable. Each month, there are around 6 micro-mill opening and each month there are more and more.
Costa Rica’s micro mill revolution
The micro-mill revolution started in my community Tarrazu, Costa Rica around 15 years ago.
For many years, producers gave their coffee cherries to Cooperatives. (Related: Cooperatives v Estates).
There are 2 main Coops in my town: Coope Tarrazu and Coope Dota. My family has belonged to the Dota Coop for many years. Nowadays, 800 producers belong to Coope Dota.
The operation and scale in a Coop is much bigger than an operation at a Micro-mill. (The cooperative has the equipment to process coffee, and processes larger amounts, it deals with the administration and sales of coffee too)
Our Coops process and sell good quality coffee because Costa Rica is blessed to have ideal conditions to produce coffee.
However, because of the efficiencies and increased attention to detail at private micro mills – the quality at Micro- mills is usually much better than cooperatives.
Most, micro-mills are owned by families and this encourages families to work together and receive better prices and fair prices for their coffee.
In Costa Rica the changes micro-mills have done for specialty coffee is unbelieveable. Each month, there are around 6 micro-mill opening and each month there are more and more.
There is also a controversy between Coops and Micro-mills because producers who owned Micro-mills used to give their coffee to Coops and nowadays they don’t do this anymore. This means that Cooperatives are “producing” less and reducing in business. In this aspect, they aren’t too happy about this micro-mill revolution, which is kind of silly.