HERMIDA'S COFFEE FARM IN MONTEVERDE, COSTA RICA
Written by: Kara
I met Hermida while staying at her farm in Monteverde, Costa Rica during my travels in 2017. I could speak enough basic Spanish to communicate, and though she could not speak a word of English, she treated me like family.
With the help of her granddaughter, Karina, Hermida described to me what it was like being a female farmer - she had to learn how to grow and sell coffee while looking after her children as a single mother.
She took on the coffee farm over 35 years ago. She knew that the farm was important to keep in the family, and decided to learn everything she could while getting to know the land. She approaches farming for coffee in a very feminine, intuitive way, woven through with threads of love and strength.
Her farm is a far cry from being a monocrop. It is a cacophony of coffee varieties surrounded by fruit trees, cacao, herbs, flowers, intertwined with sections of rainforest. She says the coffee takes on the characteristics of the plants that grow nearby, and that relationship helps to ward off disease. While we walked together through 8 hectares of lush landscape, she picks at bushes, crushing leaves, smelling flowers, nibbling berries - making me taste and smell all sorts of things.
The coffee produced on the farm is dried in small batches, roasted by a neighbouring farm, and packed without labels. The sacks are bought by a wholesaler whom I see later in the week loading his truck with millions of beans, a wonderful aroma saturates the air as the vehicle bumbles past.
The next day, over breakfast, Hermida invites me to join her for a traditional Costa Rican meal of beans, tortillas, tomatoes, and eggs from her chickens. She shows me how to make tortillas, her hands are fast, and I am certain she has made millions in her lifetime.
I glance out the window and a toucan settles on a cluster of bananas, nibbling on the fruit. Her son enters with a pail full of fresh milk from their cows. Hermida heats the milk, scoops some into a cup of fresh coffee, and hands it to me with a big smile.
This is close to heaven on earth.