It is easy to imagine how nice it is to go to Costa Rica in January especially if you are leaving behind a climate that includes a down jacket and snow shovel. Every year employees get to leave their home climates to go on source trips to warm coffee producing countries, like Costa Rica. And that’s what I first got to do in 1996. I was a trainer in what would now be called Continuous Learning and our ‘classrooms’ were in the old Java U in Waterbury, VT. The building was torn down years ago and very few remember the building, but I’ll never forget the day my boss and her boss asked me to follow them into one of the classrooms to tell me I was selected to go on the employee trip to Costa Rica.
Fast forward to 2013 and I have led four trips to Costa Rica (15 in total between there and Mexico) and I never get tired of bringing employees there. One of my favorite groups to visit in Costa Rica is Altura de San Ramon in San Ramon. One reason is Luis Campos (upper left), their General Manager, who I adore and admire. He’s been to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. in Vermont many times sporting his leather hat, soft spoken manner, and just plain tallness. As well as a coffee farmer and cattle rancher Luis runs the Association of more than 500 farmers. Another reason it is a favorite group to visit is the other friends we have made over time there, like Manuel Antonio Quiros (bottom), who has also been here before. Manuel is a coffee farmer, but also runs a car repair garage and dabbles in bonsai.
This year instead of going to Luis’ house like we usually do, we went to Sergio Hernandez’s farm for a short tour and snacks made by his wife Martha. Sergio is a coffee farmer but he also raises day old chicks to sell to chicken farms that raise them for fried chicken and broilers. He proudly pointed out that those little chickens gross him $90,000 per year. When we got to the top of the hill full of coffee trees, he pointed out (again not without a certain amount of pride) the coffee farms that his many sons own. It was at the end of the day, and I can’t tell you exquisite the light was; it was the kind of light that has no humidity to it, no bugs to it, just light and fresh air, and warmth (upper right). It’s the kind of view and company that encompasses how the employee source trips make people feel.