There are 37 volcanoes in Guatemala. Most are dormant, but there are active ones. When we visited one of the largest organic coffee farms for our sourcing trip, one nearby volcano erupted. Good experience for the trip; great taste for the coffee.
The farm, or finca, is owned by Gelpo and Pedro Echaverria and is 150 years old. It grew coffee and sugar crops, and in 1945, Pedro’s grandfather purchased it. Today it is 100% shade grown coffee and macadamia nuts. The latter is grown specifically for the shade, which is important to the coffee, and the nuts are sold and consumed within the country.
There are 300 hectares of Antigua certified coffee grown on this organic farm. Lime is used in the compost, which is made from coffee cherries; the water recycled and evaporates naturally with no pollutants; worms do their thing and break down what’s needed in the soil; beans dry in the sun and are turned every day by hand. It’s as natural as it can be in nutrient-rich, volcanic soil. And you can taste it in every cup.
There are 160,000 plants in a nursery on south side of the farm. These plants stay in the nursery for nine months before being planted. There are 150 hectares of forest at the top of the farm. It’s a beautiful view and a busy farm. Entire families come to pick coffee, even the children. At this farm, women are paid directly and the same as men.
To us, this latter point is very important. We never knowingly work with a farm that pays only the men or women less for the same weight of coffee picked. As much as procuring and roasting premium coffee means to us, we feel even stronger about the fair treatment of female and child workers on the farms with which we work.