Imagine you're a Guatemalan coffee producer, traveling to the states in the middle of a pandemic to visit family. Now imagine that family lives in the Rhode Island area and you're looking to sell some of your coffee to a local roaster while you're in town. It seems farfetched but this is exactly the scenario that led to our current farm-direct offerings: Finca el Jardin lots PL2 and PL3. The farm, Finca el Jardin, is owned by fourth generation coffee producer Pablo del Cid and his wife Eva who met while studying for university in Sweden. This past October, Pablo and Eva happened upon our Pawtucket roastery with some samples and a story worth hearing. Listening to what Pablo has invested into his farm, community, and business practices gave us a pretty good idea that we wanted to help him out, do our part in his story and enjoy some good coffee while we did it.
In Guatemala, Finca El Jardin is positioned close to the Pacaya Volcano, a highly active volcano, whose mineral-rich ashes keep the soil fertilized and able to produce high quality specialty coffees with a distinct body in the cup. The farm was first purchased by Pablo's great grandfather Eusebio in 1918 and is still operating a hundred years later, even preserving some of the first Bourbon trees Eusebio planted. Where the farm is located, the coffee plants are grown at altitudes from 1490 to 1680 meters above sea level and grown completely under shaded environments, allowing the coffee cherries to mature more slowly, enhancing the flavor of the coffee as natural sugars increase. Despite the uncertainty of low local coffee prices, Pablo has something special and he knows that with the right investments, his farm will have a special spot in third wave coffee.
The infrastructure of the farm is integral to cup quality and Pablo is serious about maintaining, improving, and investing with this in mind. Of the many examples, one is the greenhouse he had built in order to properly dry the coffee. This process can take anywhere from 15 to 21 days, and Pablo has collaborators in place to constantly stir the unprocessed coffee, ensuring the parchment dries evenly. The greenhouse also acts as a barrier between the coffee beans and unwanted insects or pests that may damage yield or cup quality. Within the greenhouse are four levels of wooden beds held by metal frames, both made by a local carpenter and local blacksmith respectively, and are built in a way that staff members can easily switch beds from one level to the next. This goes to show that Finca el Jardin is not only focused on quality, but efficiency and the pride of their community members as well. Along with the greenhouse, Pablo has invested in tiling for the fermentation tanks used to separate the coffee cherry from the seed, building a reservoir and importing fresh water to be used for his washed coffees, and even providing bonuses and incentives to locally hired pickers to ensure only ripe cherries make it from the farm to the processing centers.
So what's in store for Finca el Jardin? What new projects are just over the horizon of the local volcano? Well it's definitely more coffee. The farm is about to begin a big renovation project to begin planting and growing new varietals with hopes to one day have a different plot of the farm for each one. Some of the new planting includes 7 hectares of high-quality Pacamara, 5 hectares of Red and Yellow Bourbon trees and, in 3-5 years, some very high-quality Geisha plants.
In his Great Grandfathers name, Pablo donated a spot of his family's land to the local community and collaborated with the mayor to build a school for children living in the nearby towns and villages. The Centro Educavito "Eusebio del Cid" was the meeting place of more than 300 full time students ranging from 7th to 9th grade before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Once the school reopens, Pablo hopes to have a larger financial impact on the school which is another drive for him to build upon his operations and increase efficiency. In addition to the school and as mentioned earlier, Finca el Jardin goes the extra mile by hiring as close to the community as possible. Whether that be Anibal the carpenter or the members of his Quality Control Team, Pablo is concerned about not only his success but the success of the community he is a part of.
We really can't express how impressed we are with the team down there at Finca el Jardin. To think that it all started with a random couple walking through our front doors mid-pandemic is just one of those things. We are excited to be part of Pablo and Eva's story; to buy their coffee is to invest in their passion and to invest in their passion is to invest in their farm's livelihood. We will be working with Finca el Jardin for years to come and will be keeping a keen eye on the innovations happening on their level. Hopefully next time you are curling up with your cup of PL2 or sipping on a PL3 espresso, you taste every last bit of passion that we do.
If you're interested in learning more about Pablo, Eva, and their story you can check them out here or follow them on Instagram: @qualitycoffees