Dona Francisca and her husband Oscar Chacon of Las Lajas are 3rd generation coffee producers. They own and manage their micro mill, Las Lajas, and specialty coffee farms in different regions of the foothills of the Poas volcano in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.
Oscar Chacon’s grandparents started what is now Las Lajas in 1948. Over time, Oscar and Francisca inherited the farms and therefore became coffee producers. In 2000, they started processing coffee themselves at the Las Lajas mill, largely focusing on yellow, red and black honey processed coffee.
However, on February 8, 2008, the Cinchona earthquake struck and significantly impacted the area. After a week without drinking water or electricity, they realized they needed to figure out how to process their harvest since they were unable to produce washed or honey coffee. Eventually, they decided to process the coffee naturally, resulting in their now famous Perla Negra coffee, coffee that has opened the doors to many markets for Las Lajas. The Perla Negra natural process is defined by selective harvesting of only the ripest cherries. These cherries are washed and moved to patios for drying, and are moved intermittently throughout the morning, then capped and covered in the afternoon and evenings. Cherries dry for between 22 and 27 days.
The Chacon family is committed to producing the best high-quality specialty coffee while focusing on environmentally friendly practices. During the harvest of their coffees, they measure the brix content in the coffee cherries to determine the best time to pick their coffees to obtain the utmost sweet and fruit forward profile. Additionally, water use at Las Lajas is minimal, since their coffees do not undergo the washed process. Oscar and Francisca are focused on sharing their knowledge and passion for specialty coffee with their four children, as they will eventually take the reins of the family business.