The Torres Family
This family owned- and operated-farm grows the rare Villalobos variety
This is the third-generation of coffee production for the Torres family
Partnered with Stumptown:
The Torres family planted more shade trees and began to experiment with a new methods to strengthen their coffee plants, help combat drought and resist strong winds.
The nine Torres siblings grow the rare Villalobos variety, which only exists in this area of Costa Rica and was first discovered by their grandfather. The family has been growing coffee for three generations; if you’re lucky, family patriarch Olivier will be around to play traditional music on the hand-crafted guitars he makes in retirement.
The West Valley region of Costa Rica, besides being the only place on earth where you can find the sweet, floral Villalobos variety, is perfectly lush terrain for growing coffee. We always stop and load up on European-style hard cheeses at a fromagerie between the Torres’ farm and the Helsar de Zarcero micromill.
After six decades, the Torres siblings continue to innovate while never straying too far from the rigorous standards passed down through the years. Although they continue to be one of the world’s foremost producer of Villalobos, we are delighted that they are now experimenting with other exotic varieties, including the delicate and extraordinary Gesha variety.
The Torres family and Stumptown have developed a longstanding relationship, due to the impeccable quality and consistency of their Villalobos cultivar. As coffee producers, their attention to detail shines in the cultivation of their seedling nursery, the maintenance and nutrition of their coffee plants and in diligent cherry selection.
In the early 1950’s, Juan Gonzalez and Salvador Torres pioneered coffee production in the small rural community of Barranca de Naranjo in the West Valley Region of Costa Rica. They began by planting Bourbon and Typica varieties on their small piece of land. Over the years, they discovered a new cultivar appearing on their land, Villalobos, a natural mutation of Typica first discovered in Costa Rica’s West Valley town of Sarchi.
Gonzalez and Torres observed how well the new cultivar was suited to the Barranca terroir and decided to reproduce it. They obtained lots of seedlings and built a nursery to increase production.
Salvador’s son, Olivier Torres, inherited the farm and expanded the land to twelve hectares over many years of diligent work. The majority of farmers in the region replaced their Villalobos trees with higher yielding, more disease resistant varieties; but the Torres family decided to continue cultivating the original Villalobos variety due to its wonderful and unique cup profile.
Truly a family operation, Olivier’s three sons Jorge, Henry and Alvaro run the farm. Olivier now cultivates another passion: he makes handcrafted guitars in his workshop just above the terraced hillside where his father began a coffee producing tradition.
Today, the Torres family cultivates Villalobos on eight hectares of their farm, or 75% of their coffee crop; the rest consists of 20% Caturra and 5% Villa Sarchi.
In order to continue renovating their crop land, 3,500 coffee trees were planted in 2013. A mixture of guava, inga and erythrina trees shade the farm, along with citrus trees and other fruit and vegetable crops.
In 2013, the Torres family conducted an aggressive fertilization program that includes boron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals determined by frequent leaf and soil analysis.
The Torres family brings their cherry to Helsar de Zarcero micro mill, located just up the hill in Llano Bonito de Naranjo, for processing. Ricardo Perez, Marvin Rodriguez and Phillip Rodriguez started Helsar in 2004 with the goal of providing traceability to the high quality coffee grown on their farms.
Today, they process coffee from ten families in the small surrounding area. The mill is well known for sustainable practices such as making organic fertilizer onsite from coffee cherry pulp combined with molasses, mined zinc, boron and other minerals. Microorganisms are cultured from soil collected on nearby mountains and added to the fertilizer in order to provide disease protection to coffee plants.
Helsar is deeply rooted in the local community and takes action to compensate for its carbon footprint by planting trees in a local biological reserve and using low impact Penagos machinery to process the coffee cherry.
Our Torres Villalobos was meticulously processed with 10% of the honey still intact after demucilaging. The parchment begins drying under a covered patio similar to a greenhouse then, if the weather permits, they move it to raised beds, or dry it in mechanical dryers.
Recently, the Torres family has utilized selective pruning to combat Roya which is present near their farm. The Helsar micromill also implemented a slower and more controlled drying process in order to increase the stability of the bean. They built additional raised beds and adjusted the time in the mechanical dryers by adding 2-4 hours of resting between twelve hour drying cycles to replicate evening cooling which naturally occurs outdoors.