Picks and processes coffee at a micromill in his backyard
Partnered with Stumptown:
Bourbon and Caturra
In addition to renovating his farm with about 1500 Typica, Bourbon and Gesha variety plants, Marvin needed shade. To develop a shade canopy for his coffee plants, he planted fruit trees: lemon, orange and Annona (also known as mountain apple).
We love Marvin. We’d love him even if he wasn’t a super-charismatic, super-smiley guy who always has time for a beer. We love him because this one-man-shop is something of a renegade operation — Marvin is hands-on with every aspect of his coffee. He doesn’t grow all that much of it, but we buy everything we can from him.
Frailes, in Costa Rica’s Tarrazú Valley, has the distinction of being one of the best microclimates to grow coffee. Marvin’s farm is nestled within an idyllic coffee farming region, with family-owned farms growing alongside lush, high-altitude forest.
Marvin does it all on his own farm. He grows and nurtures his coffee trees on a beautiful, verdant slope behind his house. Then, he processes the coffee right in his garage, with a hand-cranked micromill with a small engine attached to use when his arms get too tired. Finally, he dries the coffee on raised drying beds he’s built into the hillside. It’s all stored in his guest bedroom until it’s ready for export.
Marvin Robles, a smallholder coffee farmer, lives on top of a hill surrounded by his two acre farm, Juan Pablo, which he named after his son. In the new era of the Micro Mill Revolution in Costa Rica, Marvin Robles is as micro as it gets. He cultivates and harvests his coffee right outside his house. His Penagos 500 is capable of depulping less than ten bags of coffee a day. That’s nothing. It’s almost as if Marvin was yanked straight out of Pedregal de Inza de Cauca (La Piramide) or even East Africa, based on his scale of production.
In 2009, after many years of sending his coffee cherry to the local cooperative to be mixed in with hundreds of other coffees, Marvin decided to start milling coffee cherry on his own. As an artisan, he focused on care and commitment to quality. He carefully handpicks the coffee cherry, brings it to his living room to be manually depulped, fermented in plastic buckets, washed in other plastic buckets and then dried on two raised beds that cover Marvin’s entire front yard. The parchment is then stored in his guest bedroom until it is ready for exporting.
Marvin brought select neighboring producers within the community of Frailes together as part of his boutique coffee project to allow them the opportunity to receive a better price. He processed their high quality coffee at his micro mill. He shines as an example of a producer who strives to obtain the best of the best.
Recently, Marvin witnessed many other farmers in Frailes suffering from leaf rust in the lower altitudes. He had no damage; he worked hard performing early pruning to ensure healthy plants during this crisis. He also experimented with honey process for the first time a couple small lots to see what cup qualities he might discover.