Coopedota Coffee Cooperative
Last Updated: Apr 05, 2013
Coopedota, a coffee cooperative in Santa Maria de Dota, earned recognition in 2011 as the world's first carbon neutral coffee producer. Located in the southern region of Costa Rica known as Los Santos, the area is renowned for producing award-winning coffee thanks to its mineral-rich soil and ideal climate.
Location : Santa Maria de Dota, 30 miles south of Cartago
Altitude : 5,075 feet above sea level
Hours : 7:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Telephone : 2541-2828 or 2541-2728
Entrance Fee : Tours $18
In 1960, some 96 coffee producers united to form Coopedota, the Dota Valley coffee cooperative. Today, the co-op has more than 800 members, and together they harvest 65,000 coffee bushels every year – almost 1600% more than when the cooperative was founded.
However, before Coopedota was founded, the region's coffee farmers had little knowledge of the production or sales process: there were no mills in the region, so producers were forced to sell their beans at unfair prices to resellers. Today, Coopedota's members take their beans to a shared wet mill in Santa Maria, and use their cooperative power to sell their coffee for a fair price.
Coopedota is not only committed to promoting the social economy of Los Santos area coffee producers, but also to protecting the environment. All member producers strive to create and market a "green" coffee – beans that are grown, harvested, dried and roasted utilizing environmentally friendly techniques. As part of its ongoing commitment to the local community and the environment, Coopedota participates in sustainable development, fosters recycling programs, utilizes renewable energy, reduces water consumption, and reuses its own coffee production by-products.
Coopedota's coffee tour is one of the region's most popular attractions, especially during the harvest season between November and March. The tour begins at the coffee processing plant, and gives an overview of the wet mill process, drying, storage and other steps necessary to creating a rich cup of java. Later, guests visit the roasting plant, where they discover the difference between light and dark roasts, the benefits of ground or roasted beans, and what type of packaging best preserves the rich beans. Coopedota currently produces Dota Peaberry, Dota Medium, Dark and Light Roast Coffee, Dota Espresso, Dota Tarrazu, Cafe Hermosa and Cafe Quetzal.
In addition to the wet mill and coffee roasting plant, Coopedota's facilities include a coffee shop. Sample the cooperative's roasts, order a favorite brew, and shop the selection – the world-famous Tarrazu gourmet coffee is produced only in Dota. Tours are offered daily, but reservations are recommended for Saturday or Sunday visits.
The Dota region is located high in the mountains, so the weather is often cool, especially during the early morning and evening. Daytime temperatures hover in the low 70's. Rain showers are common year-round, so always wear appropriate footwear and take a raincoat or umbrella.
Take the Interamerican highway south from Cartago. At kilometer marker 52, at the El Empalme community, take the fork in the road and continue another nine miles to Santa Maria de Dota. Coopedota is located on the main road, just after you cross the bridge into town.