all started way way back in 1991 when I was in college studying
International Business at Florida Atlantic University in
Boca Raton, Florida. Our teacher asked us to create a company,
create a product and export that product to a foreign country.
My group decided to export our ‘widgets’ to
Costa Rica. The entire class was this one project. Delving
into any and all information about Costa Rica from all sources,
I became fascinated and quickly hooked on Costa Rica, at
least in the abstract.
Fast forward to the summer of 1996, when studying philosophy
and also for my Masters in Theology. Three fellow philosopher/friends
and I were able to head down to Costa Rica for the summer
in order to learn Spanish. No longer an abstract concept,
Costa Rica now lay before us in its full and real beauty.
I was in love, with the country, its people, the mountains,
the rain forest, the cloud forest, the plant diversity,
the animal life, the monkeys, the three toed sloth, the
views overlooking the Pacific Ocean from la plantacion near
Manuel Antonio National Park, and finally, its coffee.
We love Costa Rica so much that my family now has 200 acres
overlooking the Pacific Coast in Playa Naranjo in the Nicoya
Penisula across the bay from Puntarenas in the Guanacaste
province. You can see the view we have from the beach in
the picture below.
View from our beach in Playa Naranjo
While in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, my 3 friends
and I set about to learn the language as studiously as we
could. That included an intensive immersion program at the
North American- Costa Rican Cultural Center (CCCN) with
classes going in the morning from 8 AM until noon. Right
around that time the clouds would sweep in, the rain would
come and we would head out to all of the cafes to interact
with the people.
really enjoyed the café at the Gran Hotel in the
Plaza de la Cultural. However, when we exhausted all the
cafes and began to ask the locals where we could obtain
and enjoy the best coffee, not the coffee for tourists,
but the good quality stuff. The answers were always the
same. We needed to head to a local roaster, a native Costa
Rican who had been roasting for years over there on a particular
“corner 300 yards from the Old Oak Tree with 100 ribbons
on it which has been gone for years, near the parque Morazan
in the yellow house”. Costa Rican addresses are cute
vague general descriptions like that.
Having set out on our search we soon found our coffee corner
and promptly were introduced to the local roaster, Susana
Rodriquez. At that point something happened that did not
happen in any other café thus far during our stay.
were taken on a journey through the mountains and coffee
plantations of Costa Rica. We were introduced to the various
regions (micro-climates) for growing different coffees.
And soon learned how the various climates including most
importantly the altitude affected the quality and flavor
of the bean. Also affecting the flavor were the rain amount,
the sun, the oxygen level for high altitudes and also the
picking and processing.
It soon became apparent to us with all of our tasting that
each bean, although all of them were the high quality Arabica,
truly did taste different based on the particular
climate it was grown under.
For the rest of the summer the four of us would philosophize,
along with all of the friends we would come to meet. All
the while enjoying our afternoon coffees with heated milk
right there on that coffee corner served individually in
the typical Costa Rican manner dripped down through cloth.
I became so enamored with the coffee from this roaster
that I brought some back and when that ran out, I called
my friend Susana and ordered more. I have been doing this
ever since then. In my house and on my street corner here
in Florida, this has been the only coffee to be brewed and
enjoyed here. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I
took the love of this coffee and the passion that became
if it and decided after years of enjoying it with my family
and friends that others could enjoy it too. Embarking on
that decision I started an LLC and am now importing the
6 different micro-climate coffees that Costa Rica has to
offer along with a decaf version of Tarrazu, the countries
highest altitude coffee, for those who love the taste of
coffee but prefer no caffeine.
All of our coffees are grown in consideration of the environment
of the country and the land as well as the economic benefit
of the people. As is the trend in Costa Rica and in many
places (except Vietnam, which is flooding the market with
cheap Robusta beans) our plantations are growing coffee
plants in excellent health and thus not in need of a barrage
of chemical assistance. To that end we source beans that
are grown in the shade.
Our coffee being grown under shade
Shade trees in the presence of coffee plants play a crucial
role in the regulation of the rich volcanic soil composition
as well as the temperature. They provide mulch from the
falling leaves. They also reduce the stress from exposure
to full sun, which is necessary for only a few hours a day.
Shade trees thus perform a valuable role in balancing the
soil and allowing the fruit to mature more slowly thus infusing
more flavor into the bean.
It must be noted that the higher altitude beans such as
those grown in Tarrazu might not have a lot of shade trees
for over-growth. The reason for this is that the clouds
present at the higher altitudes shade the plants naturally
and are thus less required.
Squirrel monkeys playing under the trees
Shade grown coffee also promotes a natural sanctuary for
birds. Shade grown coffee plantations host a higher concentration
of migratory bird species. There are over 150 birds who
breed in North America that make their winter home the coffee
plantations in Costa Rica. It is even currently the trend
for some plantations to replant previously timbered areas
of the land which were not in use. Furthermore they are
replanting with native trees rather than with foreign species
such as Eucalyptus.
Howler monkey in the trees
With Tico Todd’s, you can be sure that you will get
first and foremost the best quality coffee we can source
for you. Secondarily that it is grown with as much shade
as possible (the birds love the shade and we love birds!).
Thirdly, we guarantee that we will consider the quality
of life of the local workers and the communities in which
they live. We will pay the local growers and our sources
a fair price which will allow for the future viability of
the plantation, the stability of the local economy and greatly
secure the health and well-being of the worker and the ability
to feed their family. We travel to the location of the farms,
plantations and the processing facilities quite often and
will make it sure of it.
While we hope you have learned something about coffee and
Costa Rica by reading the words on this web site, we hope
even more that you will buy a couple of clear bags of our
whole bean Arabica coffee in order to see for yourself the
difference the source of coffee can make. I recommend ordering
the gift Basket Sampler which has one of each from all of
the micro-climates as well as a couple of Tico Todd’s
full color coffee cups so you can do what my friends and
I did in that wonderful summer of 1996, we enjoyed all of
the micro-climates and thus truly took a:
COFFEE BEAN PROCESSING METHOD
Our coffee mills process coffee hand-carried
to them by workers in the field, one large bag at a time,
wrapped over their shoulders. For an example, you can see
the strap of a typical coffee bag wrapped over Tico Todd’s
shoulder on our logo here on this web site and on all of
our Gourmet Coffee products.
Work at the mill begins with the separation and classification
process. The fruit is placed into a large multi-thousand
gallon water tank where the larger, prime-ripe fruit sinks
to the bottom. The smaller and inferior beans, along with
leaves and twigs, float to the top and over the side of
the vat into storage marked for transport to less expensive
coffee markets that pre-grind coffee for their customers
(seems these customers don’t recognize ground up coffee
branches in their brew!).
The next step is the separation of the pulp from the bean.
The coffee bean is transferred to tanks where it is fermented.
Here it remains until its mucilaginous covering has been
broken down and removed. The beans are then transferred
to another area where, yet again, the beans are automatically
separated by size.
The beans now begin their drying process. Having been washed,
the beans will dry under the tropical sun with proper temperature
and humidity being maintained during the entire process.
The beans will then be gathered and sent through a very
large, modern, high-speed computer that has five eyes and
can see even the slightest variation of size and dimension.
This assures a more even roast when the beans are eventually
roasted. The computer is amazing to see in action as thousands
of beans pass through in seconds!
Finally, the beans are now in their last stage of readiness:
classification and storage as “standard” or
“gourmet.” Only after passing the microscopic
eye of the computer do they get the label of “gourmet”.
Afterwards they will be shipped in large sacs that bear
with great pride the label of their Costa Rican origin,
each bag clearly defining from which farm and microclimate
Coffee milling requires the art of the exact: it demands
experienced human eyes with extensive technological support
to guarantee the quality of the final product. Pick up a
clear see-through bag of Tico Todd’s Gourmet Costa
Rican Coffee and see for yourself how exact the size and
shape of our beans are and you will undoubtedly recognize
the exactness of our processing.
ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND PROCESSING
Aware of the responsibility to future generations and the
need to preserve natural resources, the national coffee
mills of Costa Rica function in an ecologically sound manner.
The present system of coffee pulp and wastewater management
looks to avoiding the contamination of rivers and aquifers.
The residual waters are treated in such a way as to return
them to the rivers with a high degree of purity. In addition,
many byproducts from coffee processing are recovered and
reused in the manufacture of organic fertilizer and cattle
feed. Our coffee mills also use these byproducts as electricity
and fuel for the kilns that dry our coffee beans in this
beautifully revolving circle. The ecological coffee mill
is testimony to our commitment to harmony with nature and
ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND PACKAGING
The eco-friendly clear plastic bags we use to package our
gourmet beans are further testament to our commitment to
the environment. Guiding us on this principle are the recommendations
of various green consumer groups which advise against the
use of multi-layered foil vacuum packed bags which are not
recyclable. Tico Todd's uses a simple double layer thin
plastic bag for our whole beans. If you order your beans
ground, then we will grind them for you and transfer your
gourmet coffee to a simple brown bag which is also eco-friendly.
Tico Todd’s Imports