Álvaro Chavarría Zumbado in San Ramón: Improving productivity through sustainable quality


A farmer in Costa Rica


Álvaro Chavarría Zumbado is proud of his work as a coffee farmer in Costa Rica. Born and raised in Berlín de San Ramón, he grows some 11 hectares of coffee in the highlands overlooking the whole of the Central Pacific coast. This region is known as La Giorgia, where the terroir – the unique combination of soil, altitude and climate – work together to yield coffees with outstanding taste and aroma profiles that Nespresso sources for its Grands Crus. Zumbado has owned his coffee farm for 30 years now, growing high quality Arabica varieties: about 70% Caturra and 30% Catuai. Coffee fields are shaded by banana, citrus and yucca trees, which provide food for his family and neighbours while contributing to the stable ecosystem.


Pride in quality

Although Zumbado has always aspired to grow the best coffee possible, before joining the AAA Program he was frustrated at what he felt was an imbalance in the system: “When I would bring my coffee to the central mill, I felt it was unfair that others bring lower quality coffee and get paid the same,” he said.

"The Nespresso AAA Program has taught me a lot of things I had never considered before, with respect to the environment and running my farm."

Then he heard about the AAA Program, which at that point had only been set up in the region in 2004. For Zumbado, the higher premium being offered was an initial reason for him to join the AAA Program in 2005, but the on-going added value to his farm is why he has remained with it ever since.


The AAA agronomist as a trusted advisor

Zumbado emphasizes the value of the Nespresso agronomist who has worked with him since he joined the program. “The agronomist is a great friend of the family. He has taught me a lot. In fact I’m always consulting him regarding decisions for the farm. I analyse the soil, and then he advises me on what kind of fertiliser I should use, how much of it and when. That is very important, and something I didn’t used to think about. I know that what he recommends is going to be useful and that I won’t be wasting money. Since joining the AAA Program our harvests have been better and more stable than before.”


A long-term approach

For Zumbado, being in the AAA Program has opened his eyes to a new way of farming: one that looks not only to immediate success, but also invests in the future.



  • Name: Álvaro Chavarría Zumbado
  • Age: 56
  • Farm: Las Torres
  • Location: San Ramón (La Giorgia cluster), Costa Rica
  • Size of farm: 11.5 hectares
  • Joined the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program: 2005

“The AAA Program pays better prices for quality. But it has also taught me a lot of things I had never considered before, with respect to the environment and running my farm.

Now I know my costs as well as my income. My whole family helps me to tend the farm and to keep the records, while my wife handles the bills and looks after our finances,” he explained.

“I have also learned how to care better for nature: to grow under shade trees, to plant vetiver to help keep the rivers and streams clean, and to dispose of waste properly. The AAA Program has taught me how to look after my farm so that it is still producing in the future for our children and grandchildren.”