Guatemala El Aguacate - Benjamin Lopez
***These are the words of Shared Source, importer of Ben’s coffee***
SAN ANTONIO HUISTA, HUEHUETENANGO
On his farm El Aguacate, Benjamin farms Yellow and Red Caturra, with a little bit of Red Bourbon at 1750masl. His farming is very biodiverse; coffee grows on lush soils full of organic matter and teaming with ample ground cover, and is interplanted with a fantastic array of native shade and orchard trees. Chemical inputs are used only when urgently needed, mostly when there is a great risk of Roya. Soils are maintained with large amounts of organic compost and retain water throughout the dry season, keeping the farm as healthy and resistant to disease and drought as possible.
Processing is carried out on the farm. Pickers are paid high prices to selectively harvest only fully ripe cherries, especially necessary with the Yellow Caturra, where it’s more difficult to identify optimum ripeness. Cherries are depulped the day of picking and fermentation is carried out without water in a small concrete tank. Conditions are cold and the tank is ceramic lined.
The parchment coffee is fully washed after a minimum of 24hours, sometimes longer, and density sorted prior to being slowly sun dried on the patio in a 5cm layer, constantly turned, to ensure drying is even and not too quick.
Ben’s father Taedo gave his two sons part of his farm to manage themselves. We buy directly from all three gentlemen.
Tadeo Lopez and his 10 brothers and sisters grew up in very poor conditions, Tadeo went without shoes and adequate clothing and the family struggled to meet their basic needs. When he got married he migrated to Mexico seasonally to earn money to support the family, with the money he purchased parcels of coffee, bit by bit, which began to improve their livelihood and changed their lives completely. Tadeo was now able to sustain his young family. He planted coffee on small parcels he also inherited from his father that had previously been used for cattle and sugar cane. Not much better than subsistence farming, coffee offered Tadeo and many traditional landholders like him, the opportunity for real and meaningful development. But more recently the volatility of the coffee market and low prices means that covering costs of production has become increasingly difficult. It’s an all too common story to hear than in Huehuetenango the future of smallholder coffee production is very uncertain into the future. But there is hope. With his children, Tadeo has been working very hard to tap into niche, quality-focused markets by changing practices: paying pickers more to grab only fully ripe cherries, depulping the same day, better post-harvest practices like clean fermentation tanks and dryers.
By improving quality they’re receiving higher prices than ever before, they can now cover the cost of production of coffee and their living costs, and are increasing their living standards year on year.
Tadeo had only two children to be able to send them both to school, which is a significant generational shift from the culture of having lots of children. Ben, an agricultural engineer, is a technical expert in post-harvest processes, and he has been able to put into practice what he’s learnt academically on his father’s farm.
In their own words: We’re so happy to have found a final buyer who pays well, and it’s been agreat pleasure working with us. They want to keep improving the quality of their coffee so we enjoy an ever-great cup of Guatemalan coffee. And with the higher prices we will pay, they’ll keep re-investing in the farm and in their quality of living. Because at the end of the day, coffee quality is most meaningfully reflected in how the producer lives.
We purchase parchment coffee directly from the family, quetzals are transferred straight to their bank account upon receipt of parchment at our chosen mill. We pay for transport from Huehuetenango to the mill. We paid 1600 Quetzales per quintal (100 pounds of parchment) for Benjamin’s coffee. At times throughout harvest, the local rate was around 650Q/quintal, this at a time where cost of production is 700-800Q/quintal. This purchase represents the highest price the family has received for their coffees.
Black Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookie.
We roast as needed to keep things fresh n' tasty. If your coffee order is not immediately available and fresh by our standards, it will be included on the next roast day. Order processing times are usually within 2-5 business days and then shipped expeditiously. If you have a specific request or any questions, please email email@example.com