Ivan Gutierrez has been working with coffee in one way or another since early childhood. He was born and raised in the town of Santa Maria de Dota within the famous coffee producing region of Tarrazu and recalls spending time in the coffee fields at a young age, helping his parents collect coffee cherries during harvest. After a few years away from home to complete his education, Ivan returned and began his career in coffee in earnest.
Until a few years ago, Ivan was primarily focused on large scale coffee production that has been a central focus of his family’s business for generations. Over time, he and his relatives pooled resources to purchase a number of plantations throughout Tarrazu: in Santa Maria, Monte Ray, and San Pedro. In 2000, Ivan and his three brothers founded the Montanas del Diamante Mill, a processing site and dry mill that swiftly established a strong international reputation for quality. Then, in 2016, Ivan decided that it was time to shift gears and chose to sell his stake in the Montanas Mill to his siblings. He still wanted to produce coffee, but his new vision was to pursue the highest possible quality on a much smaller scale.
Ivan decided to purchase new land for his project in an up and coming area that he knew would be perfectly suited to the unique varieties (SL28, Gesha, Typica, etc.) that he wanted to plant. His La Esmeralda farm - where this particular lot was produced - is located at 2000 masl in Quebrada Grande: an area that only a few years ago would have been too cold for coffee production. As the climate has continued to change, a few courageous farmers began to plant coffee trees in the region and these early experiments confirmed the Quebrada Grande area as not only perfectly suitable for coffee production, but possessing of all the necessary ingredients for world class coffee production.
This is the third consecutive year that Passenger has had the opportunity to feature microlots produced by Ivan Gutierrez and this particular selection is an example of SL28, an arabica variety that is much more commonly associated with coffee production in Kenya as opposed to Costa Rica. The name “SL28” is a reference to this variety’s interesting history: “SL” refers to Scott Agricultural Laboratories, a coffee research center that was established in Kenya by the British Colonial government in 1922 with the goal of identifying coffee varieties that were high yielding while exhibiting good resistance to drought and disease. In the 1930’s, the team at ‘Scott Labs’ selected coffee trees from all across Africa and gave each tree a distinct number following the prefix “SL”. Of all the trees selected at this time, #28 exhibited the most desirable balance of yield, cup quality, and disease resistance, and the rest is history.