ECA Hermonenes Montellano
Hermones Montellano is a really vibrant community full of people who dedicated themselves to the growth and development of their community. I really want to share a part of their history because I think it reveals itself in the coffee they produced this year and the potential that’s emerging!
During and after the civil war that took place in Guatemala, a Catholic priest named Father Andres Jesus Giron De Leon wanted to re-unite the people displaced by the war and to advocate for the many farmers who lived in the rural areas most affected by the civil-war. Father Andres dreamed of the day where farmers could have their own land and begin to build new futures.
In order to obtain this land, the priest organized a march from the western half of Guatemala all the way to Guatemala City to ask the government to redistribute government seized lands back to the farmers. The movement became so powerful that at one moment there were over 20,000 people following Father Andres. The government at that time didn’t take kindly to this attempt and they declared the priest an “Enemy of the State” which forced him to flee to Mexico for a short while. When he returned after the political situation had changed, Father Andres was able to obtain government permission to buy a large portion of land that had become an abandoned farm.
Although it wasn’t an easy start, they began to settle into this new area knowing the many challenges they’d face. Initially, they lived in nylon tents and slowly built schools and a church building. Since the lands were abandoned, they had become jungle again and needed to be heavily renovsted to produce corn, beans, and coffee. Lastly, the farmers that settled here came from 4-5 different tribal backgrounds that also spoke 4-5 different languages which includes Kakchiquel, Mám, Quiché, and Spanish. As you can imagine, it was very difficult for them build a new community while overcoming language barriers and cultural differences.
This is why we’re really proud of this community. Their background alone shows us their resilience and ability to adapt and grow under difficult circumstances. If you visit Montellano today, they have homes built, streets paved, and electricity in almost every home. So when it came to thinking about making changes in coffee farming and production, they were easy to partner with and excited for change.
Our initial motivation was not to buy their coffee oddly enough. We had partnered up with another farm in Guatemala that expressed interest in supporting smallholder farmers if they could raise their standards of quality. We thought this would be a great way to help Montellano receive a better price per pound if we could work with them to produce a higher cupping coffee.
So we visited ECA Montellano 6-7 times during the harvest communicating the importance of maturation and varietal selection and why it mattered. It was neat to see them understand that their work could be the difference maker in the ability to form new mutually beneficial relationships.
When we cupped these coffees for the first time in January, we were blown away by the difference between their conventional production and their Specialty separated lot. One was vegetal and pretty flat and the other had clear improvements with nice acidity, sweetness, and balance. Even more exciting than the cup quality improvement, it was inspiring to see the farmers proud of their coffees.
So remember that farm that was interested in supporting smallholder farmers… we ended up losing communication with them which left Montellano without a buyer for this Specialty lot. (Super sad moment!!!) Thankfully, La Cooperativa San Pedrana offered to us the ability to use their export license to export this lot into our container. This enabled Montellano not only the opportunity to receive a price that valued their work but it enabled us to export/import their first ever separated out Specialty lot into the US. We feel really honored and humbled to represent them in this way and we’re excited to continue working with them to find ways to innovate their wet mill and focus in on plant health.
Producer: La Cooperativa ECA Montellano
Varietals: Multi-Varietal (Non-Catimor)
Region: San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango
Altitude: 1,375+ masl
Harvest: Nov, 2018 - Jan, 2019
Processing: Fully Washed Dry Fermentation Patio Dried Only
Dry Milling: 15+ Special Preperation SHB in 152lb/69kg Grain-Pro
Cupping Notes: TBA
Price: $3.40/lb April, 2018
Quantity: 14 Bags