I met a super cool dude named Olman the other day who took me to the farm of a local Costa Rican coffee grower named Victor. Victor is a fourth generation coffee farmer in Monte Verde Costa Rica and Olman school me and the Kid about everything coffee. Don’t worry folks I made sure Victor was part of the fair trade program before I stepped foot on his farm. He actually didn’t have much nice to say about fair trade since only 2% of his coffee is sold through those channels and even then the returns aren’t great because Nestle Corp does its very best to control the coffee market in much of Costa Rica. I digress though. We toured his farm and it was pretty effing sweet to learn about coffee from the bean in the ground to the cup in your hand. Fitness principles are abundant in the coffee world.
Some numbers that surprised me were the 4.5 years it takes from the time you plant a seed to the time you can drink some coffee from that plant. There were some very familiar elements in the growing cycle similar to those in the training cycle. The trees produce for three years and then they take two years off. They follow this cycle for 15-20 years. I was digging the three on two off schedule. It obviously reminded me of the three on one of schedule that is followed by so many CrossFitters. Regardless of your training schedule though the lesson was rest. These trees are in the perfect environment to do what they do and even they take time off. The picking season is only three months long. It is like the competition season for coffee trees. We “train” hard for months and months and only spend a brief season “testing.” We can’t peak all year long. We can be getter better all year but if we try to maintain our razor edge 365 we will crash and burn. During the picking season the coffee pickers fill baskets with the fruit and they are paid per basket. That is certainly a “rounds for time” endeavor. They fill baskets with fruit and they are paid per basket. $1.25 per basket with the elite pickers filling 70 baskets a day.
The house and prep area of Victor’s great-great-granparents lived and worked in was still standing and the tools of the trade from that era were still present. I got to shell, roast, and grind coffee the old fashioned way. Then I got to grind coffee the OLD old-fashioned way. I can definitely see how grinding for 10 hours at 65% of max heart rate would definitely keep up your aerobic base. Victor was a real coffee gangster though and he had some sweet machines that would peel, wash, and roast his coffee. Over half of the coffee that was picked would not prove to be good enough to sell. Victor was a perfectionist and took pride in every bean that left his farm. I love that level of appreciation for the work that one does. There is no degree of acceptable. There is awesome and then there is everything else and nothing but awesome is good enough. During the sectional season as we are critically judging each other’s workouts I encourage you to maintain that level of discipline. I expect it year round but let’s use this competition season as a reminder and a time to re-emphasize our commitment to excellence. Athletes shouldn’t even present reps that aren’t worthy of being counted. Judges should not allow a single bad rep to count no matter how hard someone is trying. There is awesome and there is everything else and only awesome is acceptable.
Fun fact: “Dark roast” is a manufactured term by coffee marketers to sell over-raosted coffee beans which has directed coffee culture in North America. Costa Rican’s drink medium roast coffee only.
Fun fact 2: The Kid and I still don’t have a name for our child but after this trip we have started referring to her as medium roast
Fun fact 3: I brewed and drank my first cup of coffee ever.