Olive oil 101

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About us

My wife Daida Kugel and I, Hans de Roos, bought the small estate and ruins of Can Solivera ('House of the Olive Grove') in Baix-Empordà, a region in northern Catalonia, back in 1977, when we were temporarily stationed in Spain by the Dutch chemical multinational HCI that I was working for. The oldest section of the stone farmhouse dates from the 11th century. In 1989 the house became habitable again and a few years later we decided to restore the surrounding fields by planting olive trees.

We opted for the Arbequina variety of olive trees. A bold decision because one needs nearly twice as much olive weight to produce one liter of oil as compared to the Picual variety, which is the typical olive oil production tree in Spain. The big difference, of course, is the taste. We figured that the mild and broad aromatic taste of Arbequina was far better suited for emerging olive oil markets in Northern Europe, the U.S. and Asia than the bitter, often pungent taste of Spanish Picual or Italian Frantoia.

Het oogst-team 2005

The rest is history. In 2001 we started our second and third Arbequina project in Southern Catalonia and our fourth in 2006, close to Úbeda in the South of Spain. These locations spread the risk of bad harvests because of hail and snow storms (ever so often the case in Northern Catalonia) and made it possible to obtain official E.U. organic certification for our olive oils as there is far less incidence of Dacus Olei, the infamous olive fly, at the elevated and dry plains of central Spain and we don’t need to spray there.

At our farm in Baix-Empordà we also developed exciting sub-products from our olive oil, such as Bar and Cream Soap, which prove to be highly beneficial to the skin. Our DAIDA olive oil Perfume Concentrate is gaining international recognition. The Anchovy Fillets project in co-production with the largest fish canning company of nearby l’Escala, is a resounding success as more and more professional kitchens discover the dramatic taste improvement of lightly salted anchovy fillets conserved in Can Solivera extra virgin organic olive oil, cold pressed in a traditional stone mill, as against the usual tastless refined or pomace olive oil.

Whilst I’m a square Dutchman, Daida’s maternal grandfather, Paco Minguell, was born in a small village near Arbeca, the “source” of all Arbequina olive oil. Read: The Legend of Arbequina.

In 2014 a long wish came true. We founded our own U.S. fulfillment company in California together with my cousins Grant Nissen and Martha DeRose! Now we are finally capable of delivering fresh produce from our local stock to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada in a matter of days at a reasonable price.