The sustainability of coffee production in Costa Rica follows a distinctive trajectory beginning with the almost universal adoption of high-intensity production systems and associated environmental costs in the 1970s. Since that time, coffee producers have responded to market-driven initiatives such as environmental certification schemes largely through the mediation of coffee cooperatives. More recently some farming families have been able to take advantage of a growing interest among specialized coffee roasters in wealthier markets to establish direct buying relationships with producers in regions recognized for high-quality beans. In Costa Rica, this has resulted in a proliferation of micro-mills. The emerging importance of micro-mills challenges our vision of sustainable and regenerative food systems, which inherently comprise collaborative social relations – as opposed to the competitive and individualistic relations associated with market-led production. Our analysis of the social impacts of micro-mills is informed by Gibson-Graham’s concept of community economies that attributes value to non-market and non-financial social relations as well as traditional market values. Using data from focus group and qualitative interviews with households that own micro-mills, we interrogate the extent to which relationships with specific buyers impact on: inter-household and gender relations, involvement in the community, and environmental practices in coffee plantations.