In traveling to Costa Rica, he sought a cooperative that shared his values of community-mindedness and environmental concern. In Santa Elena, he found not only a cooperative that held such values, but also an environment and altitude that was perfect for growing coffee.
Quite ironically, the people of Monteverde had never before tasted roasted coffee, and as such did not realize how truly spectacular their coffee beans were. Beall brought along a small roaster and proceeded to pass out samples of Monteverde’s own coffee to its residents. Upon tasting it, they quickly realized its potential, and hatched a plan to both develop their coffee fields and save the adjoining rainforest. Business developed, and in later negotiations Beall agreed to pay a premium price for exclusive rights to sell Monteverde’s beans in the United States.
In coordination with Carlos Vargas, the manager of the Santa Elena Cooperative at the time, Beall set about planning the “Coffee with a Cause” program. This program donated one dollar from every bag of coffee sold in the US to the Santa Elena Cooperative. The cooperative used this money for special projects, including reforestation, environmental education, and organic agricultural ventures. In 1990, the coop was able to open a small roasting facility – Café Monteverde. This momentous opening allowed the coop to offer homegrown coffee to both locals and tourists alike for the first time ever.
These days, tourists can visit Café Monteverde and see the coffee fields, processing mill and roasting plant. The Santa Elena Cooperative receives one of the highest prices in Costa Rica for its green coffee, and currently has over 700 members and offers services to some 3,000 residents.
Other community and environmentally minded organizations abound in Monteverde.
CASEM, a local artisans cooperative, was founded in 1982 as a means to promote social and economic development for local women artists. They hold workshops and trainings and sell a range of handicrafts, including ceramics, clothes, jewelry, woodcarvings and more. Finca La Bella is a sustainable development project dedicated to making arable land available to landless residents in San Luis, Costa Rica. In exchange for "sweat equity," farmers receive plots of land on which to grow cash crops and food for their families using sustainable agricultural practices.
The Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) is a non-profit civil organization aimed at protecting and preserving tropical ecosystems. Through educational opportunities, reforestation projects, scientific research and more, the MCL helps the Monteverde community save and protect its natural resources. One such effort by the MCL involved the creation of the largest nature reserve in the country – the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (Bosque Eterno de Los Niños or BEN), which spans some 54,000 acres (22,500 ha) of primary and secondary rainforest. The Centro de Educación Creativa trains ecologically aware, bilingual students to respond to the increasing pressures of tourism and development. Finally, The Science Center is a non-profit organization that administers the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This includes the management of the actual preserve, the research facility, and visitor center.