Direct from Costa Rica, it's Cafe Paradiso!

It’s been awhile since biscotti has done a post, and we’re sorry for that.  We were busy taking one of ROASTe’s new “Barista Tours.”  Except, erm, no we really weren’t; those are five coffees grouped together by ROASTe experts according a theme and offered as an auto-ship coffee subscription, and *not* actually physical tours, like you’d book through a travel agent.

Right, so we were actually in the official entourage of Mike Phillips, barista from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea and winner of the 2010 World Barista Championship that took place in London last month.

Except, that’s a lie, too.  Alright, we were slacking; you caught us.  Well, no we weren’t, we were just wearing some of the other hats we wear around here at ROASTe.  But now we’re back, and in a big way, too.  Because this week we spoke to Mayco Castro, founder and president of Café Paradiso.

Café Paradiso is unique among our roasters, because Mayco sells and ships DIRECT from Costa Rica to ROASTe customers.  Coffee arrives from Costa Rica to US addresses in about six days.  The fact that you can order beans that were hand-picked from family farms in Costa Rica and be drinking them less than a week after they were roasted in Costa Rica *still* blows our minds.  We think this is the first-of-its-kind coffee transaction on the web (, but if we’re wrong, we’d love to hear from you in the comments).

The first thing we wanted to know from Mayco was how he chose the name Café Paradiso, ‘cause it sounds so inviting to us that we’re kicking ourselves for not thinking of it first.  We think his answer is kind of beautiful.  Mayco wanted the name to relate back to where his coffee is harvested and roasted: Costa Rica.  Did you know that with only 0.25% of the world’s landmass, Costa Rica is home to a full 5% of its biodiversity and is a major eco-tourism destination?  We sure didn’t.  Mayco’s first thought was to incorporate the word “nature” into his coffee company’s name, but many of the various name and domain combinations were unavailable.  Fortunately a coffee fueled brainstorm session led to the idea of where you can find perfection in nature: in paradise.  Mayco’s team added a sophisticated flourish, using the Italian “Paradiso,” which comes from his native Spanish “Paraiso.”  How very biscotti of him.

For the eco-tourists reading this post, Café Paradiso’s main offices are located in San Jose, Costa Rica, while their roasting plant is in the Los Santos area, where their coffee comes from.  They have direct relationships with small family farms throughout Costa Rica, and purchase 100% of their beans directly from the growers. 

We wanted to know more about Mayco’s decision to become a coffee roaster, and we were surprised when he directed us to a blog post he wrote for ROASTe last year!  Our assistant is so totally fired for not finding that out before our interview.  Fired!  It turns out Mayco was actually *born* right next to a Costa Rican coffee plantation!  Dang, it doesn’t get more purebred than that, does it?  He literally grew up around coffee and has been in the coffee business formally over ten years.  He served as Costa Rica’s Coffee Ambassador, and both promoted and educated about the consumption of gourmet coffee internationally, traveling to North, Central and South America, the Caribbean , Europe and Asia for this purpose.  Among Mayco’s achievements, he was the first person to ship Costa Rican gourmet roasted coffee to mainland China and the first Latin American to sign a distribution contract with Wal-Mart in China.  With so much experience, it was a natural decision to create his own company and develop his own blend and brand, which he did with Café Paradiso in 2009.

With so much biodiversity around them, we wondered how this influences Café Paradiso’s roasting process.  Well for starters, their process for harvesting/processing/drying green beans takes seven days.  Coffee cherries are carefully hand-picked, then processed through a water mill and sun dried.  After, they are carefully stored until a customer places an order. For each order, the precise amount of beans are carefully roasted and immediately packaged in tri-laminated bags with one-way degassing valves, ensuring their complete freshness. Roasting large quantities of coffee to hold in inventory?  Just doesn’t happen.

The result of this meticulous process, where a quality conscious mind is above all, is a cup of coffee produced with a perfect combination of aroma, acidity and body.

What really makes Café Paradiso unique is the fact that they are a roaster in the producing country: Costa Rica.  Being in the country of origin, they are one of the very few companies in the world that can account for the entire process of coffee production – from how their 100% Arabica beans are grown in plantations and how they are gingerly hand-picked, milled and sun dried to how they are delicately roasted, skillfully packaged and shipped fresh to the end customer.  Not many can say and prove that!  Quality assurance at its best.

Another pretty cool differentiator is the fact that all of their beans are SHB (strictly hard bean) Arabica coffee ripened between 1500 - 1700 meters above sea level.  This ensures they can be roasted faster and at lower temperatures than most beans, decreasing the likelihood of being baked or scorched.

All of Café Paradiso’s coffee comes from the Los Santos region, which includes Santa Maria de Dota and Tarrazú – two of the most famous coffee-growing areas in Costa Rica.   The region is famous for producing a pleasant acidity in the cup, because of ideal conditions of altitude, rain, sun and fertile soil.  Factor in the 100+ years of tradition practiced by the small farmers Café Paradiso buys from, and the result is a bounty of care and love that Mayco puts into every bag of Costa Rica’s finest coffee.

Wow, isn’t your mouth positively watering now?  Ours are.  It sounds like a heavenly existence, being around such pure coffee 24/7.  Does Mayco have a favorite part of the business?  Surprisingly, even when surrounded by all that pristine nature, Mayco answered that it’s the interaction with the people, over a cup of the finest coffee, that he enjoys the most.  You see, in Costa Rican culture, coffee is a social event.  Mayco explained, “You sit down and share a cup of coffee with people, and share ideas, projects and dreams.  I love to be able to share this with family, friends, partners, customers, distributors and basically everyone that I’m united with through the love and appreciation of such an extraordinary beverage.”  Oscar Clip!

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