Matinilla La Libertad
On April 9, 1961, a group of coffee growers from Heredia, operating with the advice of representatives of the National Bank, formed the Central Committee for the Organization of a Coffee Growers Cooperative. The group began with 267 associates. Of course, this new organisation had to be given a name, and in one of the first sessions of the Board of Directors its Vice President, Mr Luis Omar Chavarria proposed:
“This company was born as a protest of the small coffee growers, who in turn saw in the union of their efforts, the opportunity to be free to manage their small businesses as they please and once and for all, not to be ever more subject to the whims of the wealthy, I propose that our Cooperative be named COOPE LIBERTAD RL.”
The reasoning implicit in the proposal summarised the feelings of the small coffee growers and their desire to have their own organisation. The name was accepted unanimously.
Today, more than five decades after its formation, Coopelibertad has brought under its umbrella the majority of coffee producers in the Province of Heredia, as well as expanding into neighbouring provinces. Its name, backed by the quality of its product, is recognised by the most important coffee entities in the national and international market. In 2019, Coopelibertad represents approximately 3,500 hectares of cultivated coffee land, mostly farms of small and medium-sized producers, with estates often averaging around 5 hectares or less. The organisation has 540 full-time members and serves a similar number of independent (non-member) producers, all of whom have also selected Coopelibertad as their best option to market their coffee.
Matinilla Fancy, one of the main trade brands for Coopelibertad, takes its name from its source of inspiration; Matinilla, a micro-region located in Escazu, Central Valley. Here, not only will you find fantastic coffee, but also exceptional people to produce it. It is for these reasons that Coopelibertad decided to name one of their most important lots by the same name; highlighting you can expect great coffee from great people.
For this year’s Matinilla Fancy lot, Coopelibertad is collecting and blending the top quality lots from all over Central Valley and parts of Tarrazu. For this to be feasible, Coopelibertad has created new systems of collection known as ‘recibidores’. Reception points have been set up all over the region, allowing Coopelibertad to be closer to the farmlands, encouraging even more producers to deliver their produce. These collection centres are located in the Central Valley provinces of Heredia, Alajuela and Moravia, as well as Corralillo in Tarrazu. All collection centres are located at more than 1,200 meters above sea level.
Costa Rica’s history is inextricably linked to coffee production: in fact, on the eve of the country’s independence from Spain, in 1821, free coffee seeds were distributed by the local government as a means of promoting coffee production to bolster the economy. Since it was first shipped to England in 1843, coffee has been one of Costa Rica’s key exports (it was, in fact, the ONLY export until 1890) and is linked to Costa Rica’s identity in a way that no other agricultural product is. The country’s producers were also some of the first ‘responders’ in the global movement towards quality in the cup; nonetheless, as recently as the 1980s, specialty coffee was barely understood, and Costa Rica’s production was largely lumped together as undifferentiated SHB and HB.
Today, Costa Rica has answered the calls of export buyers for greater traceability and remains a leader in the boutique ‘micro mill’ and microlot movements, which allow specific lots to be traced back to a unique farm or plot.