2023 was a year to be remembered for so many reasons. January, we officially inaugurated the new wet mill, coffee processing plant, custom built in Columbia. We celebrated 20 years of Spirit Mountain being under the leadership of the Wallace Family. The Doulos Discovery School, founded by Chad and Krista, celebrated its 20th birthday with huge party in June! Estancia Natura received the coveted Environmental license, so we could begin development. We have three new owners, that will be building the first three A frames at the farm, with construction to start in the new year. 10 years after our first downhill mountain biking event, Spirit Mountain played host to the Dominican Enduro Series. We also welcome our newest coffee partner, Modesto Arostegui and La Campagna.
Spirit Mountain is many things to many people, but it is first and foremost an ecological coffee farm, and as long as I live and breath, it will remain a coffee farm. After almost 20 years, limping along with the processing infrastructure we inherited when we purchased the property from the Lopez family, we fired up a state of the art wet mill that will guarantee an even better quality cup of coffee. Penagos, the renown Columbian wet mill manufacturer delivered a machine that was custom designed and built to our specifications, based on how we process our coffees. This was the single largest investment we’ve made to date at Spirit Mountain, and our coffee production team, under the leadership of Delvie, is grateful for the improvement!
We started the Environmental Permitting early in 2022. A license from the Ministry of the Environment in the is required for any significant development o the island, including the ecotourism and residential project we have been planning for. When we finally received notification in September that we had indeed passed the final hurdle and would be receiving the much-coveted license, it was time to celebrate and begin making preparation for the next steps.
Since early 2022, our design firm in Colorado, ROOT Architecture and Development, has been working on a new design for a completely original and unique take on the traditional A-Frame. We unveiled our new designs earlier this year, to accolades both in the US and abroad. So many on our team have contributed to this design, from Root founder, Zeke Freeman, to several members of the production team. As much as we are proud of the design, the most exciting news is that we will be breaking ground on the first three A Frames early next year. Our Estancia Natura community just gets richer as we welcome new owners from Germany, Spain, the United States and the DR.
Earlier this Fall, Kate traveled to the DR to begin work with our newest partner, which happens to be one of families favorite restaurants since 1995. Modesto, founder and owner and good friend had decided to try and match the quality of his approach to his bakery with equally impressive coffee service. Kata and I spent an entire day on the farm, with Modesto and much of the La Campagna staff. The goal was to learn as much about where coffee comes from, where the journey of quality starts and cultivate a general appreciation for the work that goes into cultivating specialty coffee. Kate then proceeded to spend an entire week equipping their staff at the Santo Domingo location, the art of the barista world. Kate, having basically grown up on a farm, and having risen to the top of the barista world in NYC, is perfectly equipped to pass on the craft of creating amazing coffee for the end user. We are so excited for this new partnership between and who knows, maybe the next La Campagna will be at the farm!!
More than 2 years ago, I met with Waldo de la Mota (DES) and Andre Valerio at the farm, to discuss someday soon hosting an enduro competition. towards the end of 2022, we tentatively set a date, and immediately started working on preparing the Farm for what we anticipated would be an epic event! On September 9th, that dream became a reality. Our farm team has never worked so hard, as we did to get ready for the Caribbean Flow! Under the collaborative leadership of Waldo and myself, we designed 4 completely new trails for this event, complete with a 50’+ road gap! Nothing less than EPIC! We’ve never hosted that many people in one day at the farm and many of us were just a little nervous of how the logistics would go. The team performed superbly, and the event went off without a hitch, even in the face of huge rain storms in the weeks leading up to the event. We all had a blast, there were really no serious injuries and we are already looking forward to the next big event coming spring 2024!!
As we look back at a year full of blessings, new friendships, epic adventures and new beginnings, we get the feel that 2024 may be a time of even more to come. No matter what happens, we know this. Estancia Natura at Spirit Mountain will continue to be a place where people feel welcomed and known. Hospitality and our love for you will always be at the heart of all we do. So from our family to yours, we wish you and your family a blessed end of 2023.
The warmest holiday wishes,
Chad & Krista, Keren & Grant, Kate & Doug, Luz & Collin