AFAORCA, Costa Rica

The Association of Organic Families of the Caraigres Hills (AFAORCA) is an organization based outside of San Jose in the Tarrazu Valley, Costa Rica. In total, 28 families make up the membership and produce exclusively certified organic coffee. AFAORCA was founded in 1996 and is was one of the pioneers of the “Micromill Revolution” in Costa Rica during the 1990s.

In 2006, AFAORCA constructed a new head office inside a beautiful new building that houses their own café and roastery. Owning their own café allows AFAORCA to employ some community members during the “off” season as well as providing an educational opportunity for Costa Ricans to learn about Fair Trade and Organic agriculture.

The farmers at AFAORCA have experienced a lot of damage and stress from the coffee leaf rust epidemic in the past two years. Lack of shade, bare soil, and a style of organic production that simply replaced synthetic fertilizer and sprays with certified organic and natural inputs has been part of their problem. At our recent visit in January, farmers of AFAORCA committed themselves to additional shade and educating themselves on more holistic approaches to organic farming.

Janette converted her small one acre farm from conventional to organic practices in 2001. Due to its small size and extensive shade, Janette is able to focus on quality and as a result has produced this fine microlot. The extensive shade was previously viewed by other members of AFAORCA as limiting her yields but she experiences less rust damage because of the shade and now members are following her example.