The seeds of Good Citizen Coffee Co. first took root in Costa Rica in a conversation between Sean Stewart, Good Citizen's Founder & Director of Roasting, and our friend and partner, Jorge Vasquéz Ureña.
While walking on Jorge's land, Finca Cedral Alto, back in March 2019, Sean was amazed by Jorge's commitment to the betterment and commitment to the long-term health of his land. Not only apparent in the beauty and complexity of the farm, but also in the cup quality of the coffee he produced.
During Sean’s first walk with Jorge, they came upon a large squash patch on the farm, which was particularly intriguing because this land could easily be cleared for more revenue-producing coffee trees. However, as Jorge explained, by diversifying the crops he grew and integrating animals into his agrarian system, he was encouraging a healthier ecosystem and creating a more nutritious soil. This was a choice for the long-term success and health of the land instead of more immediate profit-gains.
Operations at Jorge’s micromill, Roble Negro, aim to reduce the use of nonrenewable resources like water and electricity, repurpose waste products into natural fertilizers, and even ensures that the GrainPro used for packing and shipping coffee is reused or recycled by the mill’s global partners. In addition to coffee farming, Jorge also owns a recycling company, started in response to Costa Rica’s pollution levels.
The water sources on the property provide drinking water for nearby towns and irrigation for the surrounding farms. There are waterfalls, orchids, bromeliads. You’ll see oak, cedar, fig, avocado and guava trees. Cypress trees act as natural wind breaks. Lemon, plantain and other fruit trees provide food for the workers as well as the native animals, who in turn pollinate and fertilize the coffee crops.
Jorge has also diversified his income by raising 10 cattle for milk and meat as well as a number of pigs who happen to love to snack on the avocados Jorge also grows to sell. Jorge harvests microorganisms from the humus layer of the forest floor to create a non-toxic insect control and to protect against leaf rust. While processing they take the cherry skins and reincorporate them into the soil to act as fertilizer.