The most exciting thing about working - and indeed starting a new business - in the coffee industry is the fact that we are currently in the golden age of coffee. By that, I mean that coffee has the potential right now to taste better than it ever has before. There are exciting advances in our understanding of coffee, people dedicated to extracting more and different flavours from the coffees in their hoppers, and advances in technology and equipment which allow us to refine our practises and help us to repeat our results when we get that coffee dialed in.
But what I personally think is the most exciting part about coffee right now is the fact that we as roasters, baristas and coffee drinkers are more connected to origin than ever before. Whilst at the moment the Coffeefusion Roastery is in it's infancy, my hope is to be a conduit for drinkers and farmers - to help people appreciate even more, the amount of effort that has gone in to putting this cup of coffee in front of them - even if at times the biggest effort may seem to be getting out of bed in the morning and brewing that perfect cup.
Whilst I have grand plans in future years to be able to travel to origin and document my journeys and experiences on the Coffeefusion YouTube Channel - the power of the internet and social media means that sometimes we have the opportunity to reach out digitally to connect with farmers.
As a result of this, I am so happy to be able to introduce to the Coffeefusion Community Anabella Meneses - who along with her brother Antonio are the Fourth generation of the Meneses family to run the farm. Anabella and I have been in contact through Facebook for the last couple of years, and she is really excited by what I want to try and achieve with Coffeefusion. Our conversations around connecting origin to the coffee drinkers of the world are always really inspiring - and even though I am only a very small player in terms of purchasing coffee at the moment, she has always made time to talk with me - and even gone as far as taking pictures and videos of the farm for me to use in videos.
Along with this, even though the farm is currently picking and producing and life is very busy at the moment for Anabella, she took some time out on her weekend to answer some questions I came up with to help try and paint a picture of what life might be like on the farm. The answers were so interesting to read - and I hope that you are as excited as I am to be able to connect with a farm owner, and gain some insight to origin. If you have any questions you'd like to ask, please post them on the social media links or as a comment on this blog, and I'll try and get some more answers!
1. Did you grow up on the farm at Santa Felisa? If so what was it like growing up on a coffee farm?
I grew up in Guatemala City. But during vacations time we use to go to the farm for some weeks. Was my best time of the year. Playing w indigenas kids and playing at the water-spring, climbing the trees, eat its fruits and playing w fire. I’m still in love with the farm place.
After the years, I went to University to study Agronomy and Ecology. Then I have work on Microbiology Discipline and later in Coffee Business with Neumann Groupe. After all this experience, in 2008 I have decided to land on my family farm. I knew was not an easy task with the coffee prices in 2001 and later with the Climate Change (rust disease among other pests). But After 8 years im still at the lovely farm, running it and trying to do nice things for the “third wave” with my brother Antonio.
Being here, I really have learn the art of “living in the present”. At the beginning I came very romantic to this place, but during the time I have realised that being a farmer is not an easy task. It has science, art and most important: art to deal with a local community and the international market. Is really important to understand the whole community, people, animals and coffee plants, but also the trends of the market.
2. How have you seen the industry progress from your point of view at origin over the years? Are things getting better for farmers as the Specialty Coffee industry takes off around the world?
Well, I must say that for a producer the best issue it can happen is to get Direct Trade and Conscious Clients that wants to know more about the reality at origin. Fair price make a whole community develop and being proud to produce coffee. Remember that Coffee plantations are “complete mountains" and with it lots of biodiversity, they are water-shades and lot of local communities subsisting around. With good prices we can take care and being part of a whole community. It will create good neighbours and it will carry better education to be more conscious, to be more green, to take care of the mountains and water. Nowadays we still work on it. Is not easy. I help to run a Daycare Center in Acatenango (i do fund-rise and direct the project), the idea is to help all coffee-kids to get better education.
The last 4 years we had work very nice with direct trade concept and it continue helping us to construct our dream: a nice and profitable coffee farm. We invest yearly to be able to produce High End Coffees. We hold our own auction platform and results are awesome. This year our auction site, will be at www.cropster.com - With all this, Santa Felisa has improve a lot, and the people that work with us feel proud of being here, working for this beautiful place.
3. What are some of the day to day challenges you face, being a Coffee farmer?
Coffee prices and fur-fill my dream to see a green community and people around living with dignity, the new generation need to love coffee. It will create better jobs and less people trying to migrate to the big cities.
4. What are some of the great things about what you do?
Love nature, love kids, love animals and love great cup of coffee.
5. What are some of the goals for Santa Felisa as you look to the future?
Continue being competitive and become better and better.
6. If you had the opportunity to talk with the people drinking coffee from Santa Felisa, what would you like to talk with them about?
How a great cup of Geisha coffee (with a story behind it) can help to develop a community at origin.
7. Working on the farm must be hard work, and I'm sure a lot of people who haven't been to a coffee farm romanticise it. What do you like to do when you get the opportunity to spend some time away from the farm?
Go to spa and pamper my self :) and eat nice food at nice restaurants.
8. What's going on at Santa Felisa at the moment? How are things looking for the 2016 crop?
Very good naturals and very good geishas. Botanical Garden growing new exotic varieties for the future.
Please note that these answers were unedited in order to maintain the integrity of the Coffeefusion project.
I hope you enjoyed reading the answers to these questions as much as I did. The profile for the Honey Process is currently in development and should be available soon. Initial flavours from the cupping table include sweet toffee tones, brazil nuts, with a delicate but clean fruit acidity.
Sounds delicious? Click here to check it out.