Finca Santa Isabel has been family owned and operated by four generations of the Keller family, dating to 1899. The Kellers’ commitment to producing excellent coffee goes hand in hand with their dedication to the environment.
The Kellers’ entire coffee crop is shade grown, more than 1,500 short-haired sheep roam the land, grazing on weeds as a natural alternative to pesticides, and the farm practices biodynamic agriculture (which we describe in some detail in this blog post). Further, at the highest elevation of the property, a natural forest reserve is home to diverse species of plants and animals.
In 2004, Santa Isabel’s coffee plants suffered from widespread disease. The Keller family decided that the only way to rejuvenate the farm was to implement organic agriculture techniques. The 2007-2008 harvest was the first season the farm went organic. In addition to these techniques, the farm also benefits from rich, volcanic soil and a microclimate that’s ideal for cultivating high-quality coffee.
Three qualifications also make Santa Isabel’s coffee stand out. Fancy specifies that the coffee is above-average specialty coffee. Organic means that the beans are grown without chemical pesticides and with methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. And Rainforest Alliance (RFA) standards protect both the farm’s workers and the environment, with a special emphasis on the protection of endangered species in its rainforest areas.
According to the Kellers, Santa Isabel is the oldest Rainforest Alliance–certified farm in the world.
After harvest, a machine pulps the cherries before they enter a 24-hour fermentation process. After fermenting, the cherries are washed and dried on patios for 12 to 15 days.