Your Morning Cup
Coffee has grown and become so much more over the last 20 years. We've introduced new methods of processing, such as honey-processed coffees, and have crazed over the geisha varietals. We've begun to soar high and low in search of better coffees and to also learn more about the individuals who have earned the name of Campesino, coffee farmer. In Yepocapa, we've gotten the chance to meet these individuals and have learned that Campesinos have been farming coffee for generations. Their families date back to two, three, and sometimes even five generations of coffee farmers. As an attempt to connect your cup of coffee to these farmers that have actually worked with your coffee, we'd like to share with you three of these individuals and their stories.
Don Timeoteo Charuc
Don Timeoteo is the president of the cooperative San Pedrana. His Dad was a coffee farmer and so was his Grandfather. When Don Timoteo turned 19, he inherited 17 ropes (a measurement used in Guatemala amounting to around 100 feet) of land and began coffee farming, although he had been farming since he was a little child under the supervision of his Dad and Grandfather. His hopes and dreams are to see coffee farming become a successful career for his son Melvin and for the community of Yepocapa. He'd like to be able to hire more staff and to involve more youth into coffee farming through hosting soccer games at the cooperative.
Leon Tax owns a plot of land north of Yepocapa in a region known as Las Nubes. It's altitude lays around 6,500-7,000ft where he owns 50 coffee plants of a bourbon varietal. After 5 years of tending to these flawless plants, he harvested his first crop this year. His dedication to excellence is seen in the selection of only the best plants and in the amount of time he spends tending to these plants in his land. Leon Tax is also known for his character. When he walks into the room, everyone stands up to greet him. He's known for his love he gives to others, his politeful chatter, and for his thankfullness towards life. We've come to know him as Papa Leon.
We've known Don Pedro for 3 years now. We have known him most for his family and the joyful laughter that's easily heard in the rows during harvest season. Don Pedro's plants are flawless, and you can tell that there's a real connection and respect between himself and his plants. Don Pedro is on leadership staff for the cooperative and we're excited to see him teach and mentor other farmers as they begin to inherit land from their fathers. He tells us that he speaks to each plant, asking it what it needs. After observing, he'll respond by doing whatever work is needed and will also thank his plants for each production they offer. His methods may seem a bit strange, but the love is real here, and you can't deny the level of quality Don Pedro dedicates to his land.
These are just a few of many more. In fact, there are over 140 farmers working together in this cooperative. Each one producing a valuable crop and giving employment to the entire town when harvest season hits. Many of their hopes include being able to better sustain their families, give a good education to their children, and to be able to employ more people nearby.
With that said, there's a legitimate fear that these hopes and dreams are at risk. Coffee prices are often low, plant diseases are high, and there are often small opportunities for economic growth, nevermind sustainability or success. For these reasons, coffee farming has become less desirable to the younger generation and as a result many lands are being abandoned. Despite this reality, we're hopeful for the future and we've been finding others that agree as well. Meet Tito!
Jorge (Tito) is one of the youngest coffee farmers we've met here in Yepocapa. He recently turned 21 and we got the chance to celebrate his birthday with him by climbing the volcano Acatenango. Tito inherited his first 3 ropes of land from his father three years ago, and he hasn't looked back. Since then, he's lined his coffee rows with irrigation systems, fallen trees to fight soil erosion, built his own wet mill, and he is by far the most involved at the cupping table, continuously asking questions to improve his coffee. Tito is also really interested in finding a way to make coffee farming a successful career for his community. It's for that reason that we're excited to work closely with him.
We're excited to see more Tito's pop up and we're hopeful that as we see coffee farming become a more sustainable and successful career through producing quality coffee, they'll come. In the meantime, hosting cuppings help farmers recognize the value of their efforts on the farm and paying them prices related to the quality of their cup encourages healthy growth, with real opportunities to see coffee farming become a sustainable and successful career.