The Montero family lives in El Llano de La Piedra, between the towns of San Marcos and Santa Maria de Dota in the Tarrazu canton of Costa Rica. The micromill, Microbeneficio Don Eli, is located across the river from their home and one of their several farms, Finca La Pastora, is located up on the side of a nearby mountain, with breathtaking views looking back down into the river valley and over the landscape of Tarrazu.
Carlos has not always had his own mill, however, and the efforts to create coffee processing capabilities on his own land were part of Costa Rica’s “micromill revolution” and the result of the entire family’s hard work and dedication over many years. Carlos was motivated to take on this gargantuan task because of his family’s history working in coffee production and his own convictions and desire to put his family’s name on the final product.
The Montero family has been farming coffee for four generations; the legacy begins with Rafael Montero and Emilia Picado. Their son Eli Montero would work throughout his life in coffee, as would his son, Carlos Montero. Today, two of Carlos’ children, Jacob and Marianela, are involved in coffee both on and off the farm. Carlos grew up watching his father struggle through the hard times that often befall smallholder farmers and set out to create opportunities for himself as well as his family’s farm.
In 1971, Carlos participated in a high school exchange program in San Diego, California. He gained experiences and friendships that remain with him to this day and informed his approach to coffee production. Carlos later lived and worked in New Jersey, becoming fluent in English, and also traveled to Europe to experience the continent’s history and culture. Carlos treasures these experiences abroad and his favorite aspect of working in coffee is the connections he makes with people from all over the world. He loves hosting coffee lovers from around the world and sharing his culture with his guests.
In the past, Carlos and his family worked to produce coffee for Coopedota, the local coffee cooperative, for over 20 years. During the harvest of 2014-2015, the Monteros took the risk of establishing their own micromill to process the coffee they grew. This way, they could regulate their own coffee, focus on innovating processing methods, and ensure quality in each coffee bean. They transitioned to a mindset of quality over quantity, and today specialize in Honey and Natural processed coffees.