Producer Profile: the Bonillas of La Loma & Don Mayo


Farm: La Loma
Owner: Hector Bonilla
Region: Tarrazu
Micro Region: San Francisco de Leon Cortes
Micro mill: Don Mayo
Altitude (masl): 1850
Varietal: Red Catuai
Process: Fully Washed


Hector and Pablo Bonilla, owners of the La Loma farm, are also the father and son team behind well-known and widely recognized Don Mayo micro-mill. For several years, this family has been producing some of the finest coffee coming from Costa Rica. The mill processes coffee cherries from several neighboring farms in the increasingly infamous Tarrazu region and in 2009 the micro-mill was behind the production of the winning lot.

La Loma is located at 1800 masl and the Bonillas are well acquainted with our lot preferences based on our long-standing relationship with them. We choose “fully washed” coffees from La Loma because we believe it best represents the varietals grown at La Loma most faithfully. In the fully washed process, the seeds are removed from the skin, pulp and mucilage and are then dried on perforated mats, or directly on to cement, in order to dry slowly under constant raking and further selection process. Since coffee does not ferment in this process, there is one less variable to take into account that could lead to otherwise uneven drying and potentially compromised quality. We find that the lots produced at La Loma are very clean and refreshing.

Don Mayo Coffee Mill was established in 1994 and Héctor Bonilla Cruz is the general manager and founder of Don Mayo. Mr. Bonilla was the general manager of Cooperativa de Caficultores de Llano Bonito R.L. from 1992 to 1998, where, amongst other things, he incorporated the "Fair Trade" market and the beginning of direct sales of the cooperative’s coffee to European and North American clients.

The Bonillas use agricultural practices taken from research-based evidence; interventions that include best practice of soil treatments, shade organization, and coffee varieties. These practices are based primarily on the use of varieties of coffee that have been proven to best match the agroecology of the farms, soil maintenance without the use of agrochemicals, and the use of the controlled shade to incorporate organic matter into soil.

Care of the Bonilla plantations are worked in a personal way: the members of the Bonilla Solis family take care of the plantation themselves and supervise each one of the processes. This allows a more meticulous care of the soils, plantations and varieties of coffee. The family oversees every aspect of plantation management, including pruning, fertilizing and cleaning of the plantations. The family also participates in the milling process, in order to assure a quality product.

In 2005, Don Mayo began the renovating the mill including the addition of more sun drying patios, repainting of the machinery, construction of silos for storage, and mounting another mechanic dryer. These new facilities have been utilized since the 2006-2007 season.

In 2005, as a result of the great acceptance of their coffee and its price among toasters, the decision to continue with the project was made. For such purpose, they proceeded to begin the construction of a totally renewed mill. This included adding more sun drying patios, repainting machinery, constructing silos for storage, mounting another mechanic dryer; all of these to enlarge the processing plant and to have it ready for the 2006-2007 crop.