Gloria Esperanza Mejia is the owner of a small farm called Las Palmas, in the Copan region of Honduras. Gloria, her husband and her daughter all live on the farm and do most of the farm work themselves. Despite having no agronomy training or experience producing coffee, Gloria was forced to take over management of the farm in 2011, after her husband severely injured his back and was no longer able to work. Shortly after she took over management, the farm was decimated by coffee leaf rust. Due to the disease, for two years running, Gloria wasn’t able to produce one exportable bag from her harvest, and was very close to giving up on coffee. In the 2016/17 Harvest Gloria decided to join the Falcon Specialty Agronomy Project, which meant Simon and the Aruco technical team visited Las Palmas on a weekly basis to coordinate picking at the farm. In conjunction with Gloria and Aruca, we made an 8 bag washed lot, and 1 bag of black honey, which totals around 50% of Gloria’s annual total production. Since the advice and training Gloria received, her coffee has risen a staggering 9 points – up to 87 based on SCAA cup scoring – and she is receiving 167% more for her coffee. Now Gloria is producing a variety of coffees through different processes at the mill including red and yellow honey coffees. Gloria is also no in turn teaching producers around her about organic farming and how to prepare organic fertiliser where on her farm she has given space that the growers use together to create organic fertiliser.
The producers will receive about 70% of the FOB price for their micro lots. This year the harvest for all producers was extremely difficult with increased rains during the harvest and a lack of pickers meaning a large amount of coffee was lost from either falling to the ground or swelling and splitting on the tree.
All the processing for the ML’s takes place at the Aruco mill to centralise and have greater control over the process to create consistent procedures but also to reduce the risk on the producer. The mill is also at 800masl which gives a drier more stable climate to dry the coffee compared to up at the farms where the weather can be less predictable. The coffee will be delivered to the mill where they assess the cherry (take Brix) and decide on the process for the coffees depending on space and what the producer has done already. The cherry is cleaned and washed and then floated to remove any immatures. This coffee is then pulped and taken to the beds where it is left to rest for 6 hours and then after this moved immediately every hour. The coffee is then dried for between 15 -25 days weather depending where it is turned hourly in the day.