International figures shared their global coffee and tea perspectives at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's recent Coffee, Tea & Water conference in Nashville. In his keynote speech, Juan Esteban Orduz, president of the Colombian Coffee Federation, described the role the federation has played in raising the standard of living for coffee growers and their families. Also presenting were Stephen Twining, a 10th generation member of England’s most famous tea family, and Luz Marina Trujillo, the third-generation owner of the Santa Elena coffee estate in Costa Rica.
NASHVILLE -- Third-generation coffee producer Luz Marina Trujillo provided CT&W showgoers a firsthand account of what's involved in running a successful coffee farm and shared the deep connection she has with the people who work on hers.
Trujillo hosted a group of National Automatic Merchandising Association members at her Santa Elena coffee estate in the mountainous Tarrazu region of Costa Rica last February, allowing them to personally experience one origin of coffee's farm-to-cup journey.
She grew up on a Colombian coffee estate and moved to Costa Rica in 1989 to run the Santa Elena coffee farm that her father and uncle had purchased years earlier. "I planned to stay six months, but it's been 24 years," she laughed.
The coffee grower decided early on that she wanted to sell directly to roasters. Her first client to buy direct was Seattle's Best founder Jim Stewart. Their relationship budded into a romance and the two married. Stewart joined his wife at NAMA's CT&W event.
Trujillo pointed out that many coffee farmers never taste their coffee in roast and ground format before the green beans are sold and shipped. So she stepped it up a notch by investing in a roasting machine, allowing her and her employees to cup each batch of coffee to ensure its quality and consistency.
Trujillo guided CT&W showgoers through the coffee-picking and sorting process via a slide show that spotlighted each step and the families behind Santa Elena coffee.
"We treat coffee with love every step of the way," she said. Santa Elena coffee is shade-grown and produced with natural fertilizers. And the coffee estate supports the quality of life of its workers through community health, education and social outreach programs.
"Any time you want to visit, you're more than welcome to visit Santa Elena," Trujillo concluded. "You're part of my family."