Alumni Spotlight: Milo Palomo

Milo Palomo is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and currently works at Starbucks as a Barista. He is 20 years old and enjoys traveling, playing soccer, and coffee.

Working in the coffee fields.

What inspired you to volunteer abroad with IVHQ in Costa Rica?

Milo: What inspired me to volunteer aboard was my love for coffee.

I have worked at Starbucks for 2 years now and my love and curiosity for coffee and where it comes from grows more and more each day. So I got to the point where I just needed to find a program where I could be submerged in the true coffee culture.

I wanted to first hand experience the work that goes into creating the coffee I serve every day at Starbucks. I always wanted to volunteer because I wanted to be able to share with customers my experience in the coffee fields and express further my appreciation for what goes into making a cup of Joe.

Which project did you participate in? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Coffee bean plant.

Milo: I participated in the Eco-Agricultural Conservation program in Costa Rica. Since it wasn’t harvest season most of our work was just nurturing the coffee plants. Every day we would wake up around 7am, eat some breakfast and of course have some coffee, then make our way out into the beautiful coffee fields, machete in hand.

Then we'd clear weeds and rocks away from the coffee and put a little bit of organic fertilizer down. We did this for about 4 hours each day and always made it back for lunch. On rainy days we would stay in and help roast and package the coffee. After that our workday was done, we were free to relax in the hammocks or bond with the other amazing volunteers!

What was your favorite moment of the trip?

Milo: My favorite moment was making the crazy hike up Cerro Chato and getting to swim in the Lagoon that was the volcano’s crater. On the hike down it was pouring rain, which made it slippery and difficult but by far one of the most beautiful, and amazing experiences of my life.

I think what made this memory so amazing was the other volunteers, over the 3 weeks you all became this little random family in a foreign country just enjoying themselves. It was so awesome to create those friendships that will last forever and it will be something I never forget because I was never expecting it.

Milo and other volunteers.

If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

Milo: The fact of the matter is I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing, all I can say is I am truly blessed to have experienced what I did for those 3 weeks!

How has this experience impacted your future?

Milo: This trip impacted my future in a big way, Its made me want to do more. This time maybe even get something started through the Starbucks Company. So other partners can go out to experience the little things that go into the coffee and have that understanding.

It’s something that can change anyone’s life, to make you appreciate the little things. Now when I’m at work and I’m getting ready to grind the next batch of coffee beans, I take myself back to the finca where those baby coffee plants were in my hand and all I could think to myself was this was just the beginning.