Oscar and Francisca Chacón, 3rd-generation coffee growers, are famous for their Honey and Natural process coffees.
The Las Lajas farm is nestled in the foothills of the Poas Volcano, located outside the town of Sabanilla in central Costa Rica.
The name Las Lajas comes from the Spanish version of an Arabic word for the indigenous-crafted stone artifacts found on the farm when it was first planted. In total, 38 hectares of land are divided into several parcels, each of which grow various shade tree species and create unique micro-climates. In addition, different lots process coffee differently—some naturally, others either honey or washed. Las Lajas’s farming diversity allows the farm to create several distinct products with different characteristics all within a contained area. There is a rich tradition of coffee farming in the Chacón family: generations have owned and produced coffee on their land for more than 80 years.
After the tragic loss of their father due to pesticide-caused illness in 1980, Oscar and Francisca made the conscious decision to do what their hearts told them was best for their family. The two began growing organically. This decision to grow organically was difficult at first because there were no premiums paid for organics at the time. The two risked financial stability. As pioneers, the Chacón family saw the value in building a healthier farm. Today, many farmers and cooperatives benefit from the risk Oscar and Francisca and other farmers took many years ago. Las Lajas was one of the first farms to produce organic coffee and remains one of the only certified-organic farms in Costa Rica.
Later the Chacón family took up researching a mixed processing method. The two hypothesized that by combining natural and wet production their coffee could develop a new flavor profile. Today, the farm offers three different honey processed coffees, each dried with the mucilage intact, but with different levels of agitation. For example, Las Lajas yellow honeys are turned each hour on drying beds, red honeys less so, only a handful of times per day, and the black honey receive the least amount of attention—they are turned only once per day.
In 2006, the Chacón family began milling its organic coffee cherries in the farm's eco-friendly wet mill. Sole-ownership provides Oscar and Francisca the opportunity to not only market traceable certified organic coffee, but also to customize the milling process and crop varieties based on client needs. From building unique environments to introducing organic coffee to developing the honey processes, the Chacón family has been at the forefront of innovation in coffee production. Their leadership has set the tone for the industry and the evolving reality for the specialty coffee supply chain.