Costa Rica News – Longmont couple Nicole Carrell and Adolfo Castro are combining family tradition and a shared love of java to launch a new coffee importing operation called Costa Rica Coffee Company.
The pair, both 27, met in Castro’s native Costa Rica while Carrell, who grew up between Colorado and Washington, was teaching English as a volunteer with the Peace Corps.
Castro’s family — siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents — has been growing coffee in Coast Rica’s Tarrazú region for three generations. So, when the couple married and came to Colorado about two years ago they wanted to bring a piece of the family business with them.
While Carrell and Castro work day jobs — property management and tax preparation, respectively — they spend their spare time coordinating coffee growing operations with family members in Costa Rica and searching for clients in the states to buy their beans.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
1. When did you first start drinking coffee and how serious is your current coffee habit?
Castro: I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a kid — since I was a baby probably.
Carrell: In Costa Rica they start drinking coffee before they can hold the cup themselves. But I actually only started drinking coffee about five years ago when I first went to Costa Rica.
Castro: We drink probably two cups a day, not too much.
2. What makes Costa Rican coffee unique?
Carrell: There are two main types of coffee: robusta and arabica. Robusta is the more mass-produced, it grows quicker. Arabica is the more high-quality type.
Castro: In Costa Rica, we can only grow arabica.
Carrell: In comparison to other coffees, Costa Rican coffee is sweeter and has a fruitier taste to it. It’s particularly round-bodied.
Carrell: When we first started on our business plan we thought a lot about what our individual strengths and weaknesses are. We are still trying to figure out how to balance everything in terms of business and our relationship. I’m new to the whole coffee business, but I’m invested in it because he loves it. Sometimes (I question) if this is something we really want to be doing, but I think about it and of course this is what we want to be doing.
Castro: I like that she’s involved.
Carrell: I think we compliment each other well. He has the experience with coffee and with accounting and business. I’ve got people skills and sales skills.
Castro: She’s already learned a lot. I’ve taught her about planting the coffee, growing the coffee. It was funny to see her working in the coffee plantation, getting dirt on her.
Carrell: It’s good to have common goals together that aren’t just personal. It’s good to have a project. We’re best friends, business partners, and spouses.
Castro: One of the biggest challenges for me was not about the business, it was coming (to the United States). I left all my family, my friends, my job.
4. What have been some of the biggest adjustments moving from Costa Rica to Colorado?
Castro: I miss the coffee and the people. The people are all about pura vida. It’s like sitting outside and talking with neighbors or people you don’t even know.
Carrell: The culture in Costa Rica is really relaxed and sociable. It’s a lot like that here, too, so the adjustment has been a little easier I think.
Castro: The weather. A lot of people think about the beach when they think about Costa Rica. But where I’m from it’s in the mountains, so it’s not that hot and it’s not that cold. Here it’s cold, it’s very cold. But I was really excited for the snow.
5. What are your expectations for the future of Costa Rica Coffee Company?
Castro: This is my dream, so I’m going to do my best to get it to work.
Carrell: Part of putting together our business plan is setting goals and looking into the future. We are hoping that within the next three years one of us — probably (Castro) — will be able to focus 100 percent on the business. We’re excited to be doing this — it’s certainly not something I ever imagined I’d be doing.
Until five years ago, I hadn’t even really tried that much coffee. But we are very, very passionate about it. Whether we become a world-renowned company or not, we are just excited to have some skin in the coffee game. We want to be able to share both the coffee and the culture of Costa Rica.
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