Coffee Origin Stories: Our Search For The Best Beans

16 May 2021


Our obsession with coffee may have begun in Saint Lucia, but our search for the best beans took us across the globe. To find coffee fit to bear the Rabot Estate seal, we ensure that ethical values are just as important as taste.

The One’s blend includes beans from a female-led group in Rwanda and its decaf incarnation from farmers protecting indigenous habitats in Brazil’s Cerrado region.

Our Cashmere blend starts its journey at a cooperative of coffee-growing families in San Francisco de León Cortes in Costa Rica.

And finally, our Rocket beans come from a sixth-generation family farm in Chikmagalur, India. 

Wherever they are in the world, all our partners share our values. It’s how we created a distinctive collection of coffee blends, each with their own personality and credentials we can be proud of.

A conservation-minded family farm in Brazil’s Monte Alto

Monte alto coffee farm in BRazil

Set on the green hillsides of Brazil’s Minas Gerais region, the Monte Alto farm has been tended by the Ribeiro do Valle family for nine generations, since the farm’s first coffee crop was established in 1880. With 141 years of expertise at hand, it’s little wonder why the quality of their coffee is so exceptional.

The region’s steep, mountainous terrain means that around 70% of the coffee harvesting must be done by hand, just as it was over a hundred years ago. Modern machinery brings in the other 30% (with less sweat on the brow) and, more recently, solar panels have also been installed as a renewable energy source, working towards a more sustainable approach to coffee growing.

Otherwise, farm remains untouched. Over 50% of the of the area serves as an environmental reserve, the highlight of which is an enormous Jequitibá tree, with estimated age of over 1000 years. During the farm’s ninth generation, timbermen offered to buy the tree from the farmhands, who were in a time of great crisis. They refused, and the farm eventually recovered. To this day, the Jequitibá tree stands as a reminder of the Ribeiro do Valle family’s resilience.

Taste these beans in our turbo-charger Rocket and our signature blend, The One.

Kinini: A female-championing group in Rwanda, with an agenda of social improvement as well as coffee excellence

Kinini coffee farm in Rwanda

As well as producing premium-quality coffee, Kinini has been instrumental in empowering and supporting Rwandan widows and orphans displaced by the 1994 genocide. A portion of all their coffee sales is used to fund local projects and centres, helping to heal the community after years of trauma in the region.

Partnering with more than 633 farmers, the majority of whom are survivors and widows of the genocide, Kinini has brought further stability to both its coffee growers and the surrounding communities through building quality schools and local healthcare outposts which, in the past, have been lacking.

As well as spending time and money improving local infrastructure, Kinini continue to encourage cooperative work amongst Rwandan farmers, and provide advice on farming methods, including soil management and disease control.

Spanning 252 hectares of growing land in the Rusiga and Mbogo sectors, where the terroir (or growing conditions, including soil, topography and climate) is ideal for producing coffee, Kinini coffee beans have gained Cup of Excellence status, as well as a growing recognition with roasters and baristas around the world.

Taste these beans in our turbo-charger Rocket and our signature blend, The One.

10 smallholder farms in Quindio, Colombia

coffee farm in colombia

Forming one trisect of what is known as the Coffee Triangle, Quindio sits within the rural Paisa region of Colombia, which is famous for producing coffee. High altitude and the undulation of the land creates the perfect conditions for Caturra and Castillo coffee plants, two varieties that thrive in Colombia. You’ll detect their floral and fruity notes in our signature blend The One, and its decaf incarnation.

Managed by local farm owner Hernan Israel Ocendo Usman, El Eden sources its beans from a group of 10 farms within the Quindio region: a close-knit community of growers dedicated to producing the highest quality coffee beans

Taste these beans in our signature blend, The One and its decaf incarnation, The One Decaf.

A group of farmers in Brazil’s Cerrado region, working to protect indigenous habitats and forestry

Coffee farm in Brazil

Brazil is one of the largest – and most eclectic – producers of coffee in the world, owing its highly diverse range of coffee characteristics to varied soils, regional climates and temperatures. Lack of altitude – a factor traditionally considered crucial for creating the very best coffee flavours – means that Brazilian coffee beans express a mellower, less acidic profile.

The Brazilian coffee beans we use in The One Decaf stem from the Cerrado region, one of the largest yet youngest coffee growing areas in Brazil. The farmers and small holders we partner with are dedicated to working in harmony with the wildlife that flourishes there: nearly 1,000 species of birds, a number of endangered species, and plants that are found nowhere else in the world

Taste these beans in the decaf incarnation of our signature blend, The One Decaf.

A sixth-generation family estate in Chikmagalur, India

close up of coffee beans on the plant

Chikmagalur Sethuraman Estate has been in Nishant Ramesh Gurjer’s family for over 200 years. You’ll find it in the scenic hamlet of Magundi, where it produces some of the finest robusta coffee in the world.

But don’t just take our word for it: Nishant’s farm was the first on the planet to be certified ‘fine robusta’, or ‘R’ grade (the equivalent of ‘Q’ grade for arabica) by the Coffee Quality Institute. Only around 30 coffees in the world have achieved this grade, of which 17 are grown right here.

There are a few reasons for that superior taste. One is the terroir (or growing conditions, including soil, topography and climate): coffee plants spring from the mineral-rich soil of the Bhadra River belt, over 900m above sea level. Another is experience. Not only does Nishant bring six generations of hard-won knowledge himself, he also employs a permanent workforce of around 200 people, and an equivalent returning seasonal one. This means that understanding earnt over the years is retained and goes on contributing to the quality of the beans

.Finally, a commitment to ethical, eco-friendly, organic farming practices that goes above and beyond also helps to produce beans that surpass the competition. Nishant and his team respect the trees native to the estate, and work with nature to create a system of cover plants – such as pepper and betel nut – that naturally protect the coffee and cover the soil. This also benefits bird life, not least the many peacocks that call the estate their home. Machine involvement is kept to a minimum, too: cherries are hand-picked and hand-sorted, and dried under the sun.

It’s a forward-thinking, natural approach that puts our planet and future generations first, and chimes with Hotel Chocolat’s own values

Taste these beans in our turbo-charger, Rocket.

A cooperative of farmers in the Cauca region of Colombia

Coffee farm in Cauca, Colombia

Cencoic grow high-quality coffee brimming with character. The name is short for Central Cooperativa Indígena del Cauca, as the beans come from several indigenous reserves in the Cauca region of Colombia. After many years of conflict in the area, a more peaceful time has allowed the cooperative to flourish, and even to begin to work with new reserves.

Each reserve has its own terroir (or growing conditions, including soil, topography and climate) which contributes to the final flavour of the blend. Plantain, pineapple, lemon, orange and yuca (or cassava) all grow together with the coffee plants, and you’ll detect notes of the local unrefined, whole cane sugar, panela, which tastes similar to treacle.
The average Cencoic farm is around a hectare of coffee-growing land, at about 1,800m above sea level, and supports coffee varieties including Caturra, Colombia, Tabi and, less often, Castillo.

The farmers we source coffee beans from bring their parchment to a local collection warehouse to be weighed before it’s cupped and dry-milled, removing the husks and grading the coffee to ensure consistently exceptional quality, in every cup.

Taste these beans in our turbo-charger, Rocket.

A community programme in Costa Rica’s Tarrazú region

Coffee grown in Costa Rica’s Tarrazú region is some of the most well-known in the world. Ours comes from Coope Tarrazú Community Coffees, a programme dedicated to highlighting the particular qualities of coffee specific to different micro-zones.

The average Coope Tarrazú farm is nestled between the mountains of Zona de Los Santos, 1,200 to 1,900m above sea level, where climate and soil conditions and the natural shade of a wide variety of other trees combine to provide the ideal terroir (or growing conditions, including soil, topography and climate). No wonder, then, that coffee is one of the area’s main exports.

Taste these beans in our mellowest blend, Cashmere.

coffee seeds ripening on the plant

A cooperative of coffee-growing families in San Francisco de León Cortes, Costa Rica

Taste this coffee in: Cashmere

Costa Rica’s Coope Tarrazú Community Coffees not only provide beans for our Cashmere blend from San Cristóbal, but also from San Francisco de León Cortes, another part of the same Tarrazu region that’s globally recognised for its coffee.

Here a smaller number of coffee-farming families proudly grow Caturra and Catuaí coffee varieties on farms at about 1,700 to 1,950m above sea level. Passionate about what they do, farmers here work together every step of the way to help each other to produce exceptional-quality beans.

Taste these in our mellowest blend, Cashmere.

Cashmere has comforting notes of crème caramel and freshly baked brioche.

A handful of farms in Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Coffee farm in Colombia

Café Granja La Esperanza is made up of five farms from across Colombia and Panama: Cerro Azul, Las Margaritas, La Esperanza, Hawaii and Potosi. Founded in 1930, the owners bring over 90 years of coffee-growing heritage to every crop, and have built a reputation for producing award-winning coffees.

To produce the superior beans they’re known for, our coffee farmers work with what nature gives them, carefully tailoring processes to varieties to tease out their unique flavour profiles.

A cooperative of farmers in the Sidama region of Ethiopia

Ethiopian coffee farm with beans drying in the sun

Kilenso Mokonisa cooperative is a part of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), and is found in south-west Ethiopia’s Sidamo region. OCFCU is a pioneer of the Fairtrade Climate Standard, designed to help coffee farmers to improve their income and living standards while also growing their farms’ resilience to the effects of climate change.
OCFCU pay 70% of their net profits to their cooperatives, and Kilenso Mokonisa follow suit, paying 70% of theirs directly to their farmers. OCFCU also cultivate around 80,000 seedlings every year to support their member farms, which they nurture for around 12 months before distributing them.

The average Kilenso Mokonisa farm is around two hectares, and you’ll often see the space-efficient enset (or ‘false banana’) thriving between coffee plants since it helps to retain soil moisture – an effective and eco-friendly way to reserve water for the dry season. Enset is also a popular choice because you can feed more people with it per square-metre than the majority of cereals; in Ethiopia it’s usually made into kocho, bulla and amicho.