Born from Coffee

by Alessandra Baltodano, Gabriela Bonilla & Daniela Linares 

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This microdoc about a family growing coffee in Costa Rica,offers us a look into the repetitive cycles of planting, harvesting and processing that bring the family together and keeps them close to the land generation after generation.

In a small country, among mountains that rise up to more than 1500 meters, inhabit coffee heirs who guard and cultivate, within their own hands, this venerable fruit. The history of coffee in Costa Rica is parallel to the independence and development of this nation and it is, undoubtedly, one of the aspects that placed it on the map. The coffee growers, in addition to quintals, carry the lineage and history of thousands of families who, together with the fertile land, forged the economy of our country.


Nowadays, 20% of the country's territory is dedicated to the cultivation of coffee, and it continues to be an important contributor to the GDP. The land devoted to cultivation is distributed among more than 52 000 farmers who are mainly organized in cooperatives. Cooperatives have a strong link between producer and coffee processing centers, an alliance that has generated many advantages for both parties.


However, as Costa Rica has positioned its coffee as one of the best in the world throughout history, the economic structure of this crop has begun to change. Many heirs of this labor have begun betting on quality rather than quantity creating micro-processing centers. In them, fathers, mothers and brothers share the roles to take charge of the entire processing of coffee; keeping the family together throughout the repetitive cycles of planting, harvesting, processing, drying and exporting. Currently, there are about 256 of these family-owned processing centers, almost three times the amount there was 10 years ago: 256 families that pass among them, as a sacred secret, the knowledge for production.

They are everyday heroes who face many different adversaries daily, but still manage to raise their heads before them. In the midst of the noise of a giant industry, they continue to work in their small family nucleus, where the children take constantly the brave decision to stay close to their land.

Under an erratic and unpredictable climate that today accounts for no harvests, global economies, free market and price instability, they keep their hands together like roots to the soil.

These producing families characterize the coffee sector of our country, which still rests mostly on the shoulders of this family heritage. In the same place where their grandparents and their parents have planted and cultivated, today a generation of young entrepreneurs take on the challenge of continuing to perfect the flavor of their grain and to differentiate themselves worldwide. These young people are absolutely certain where they come from and where they belong because, like plants, their roots have become deep-seated with time.


Faced with an economic and environmental reality that presents more and more challenges and obstacles, it is of vital importance to return to these roots; to remember that we are a country that depends on its fertile volcanic soil and on the knowledge inherited from generation to generation. The young people who today inherit this love for the land and the coffee struggle with their work against the oblivion of our history and continue incessantly the mission of keeping our red fruit as the best in the world.


They are children of coffee, raised among coffee plantations. Now their children will not only grow between seed nurseries and crops, but also between drying patios and crushers; and some even in roasting labs. Their daily and discreet, enterprising and dedicated work recalls the beginnings of a nation that sprouted close to the earth. That emerged thanks to the red fruit which captivated the world and that had space for even the smallest producers to climb to the top. Today in these families you can feel the lineage within their nails, which cultivate affection for the earth at the same time as coffee. Without doubt, in Costa Rica, who is born from coffee, sooner or later, returns home.


Direction & Cinematography

Alessandra Baltodano, Gabriela Bonilla & Daniela Linares



Alessandra Baltodano, Gabriela Bonilla & Daniela Linares



Alessandra Baltodano, Gabriela Bonilla & Daniela Linares


2013. Santa María de Dota, Costa Rica


Published in August, 2017

Volume 1, Issue 3


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