In the highest and coldest part of the southwestern border with Honduras and El Salvador, is the farm YIRE in the community of Aguacinga, municipality of Santa Elena, in the department of La Paz property of Juan Carlos Manueles Ventura. This farm represents for Juan Carlos and his family the main economic activity and contributes to the economy of 12-15 neighbouring families are favoured because they work in the maintenance, picking, hauling and processing of coffee. Thanks to coffee, Juan Carlos is able to send his son to study agronomy, continuing the family tradition.
This coffee is a relatively unusual varietal called Pache. It’s a dwarf mutation of the typica varietal.
Juan Carlos’s focus on quality has seen his farm twice awarded in the Honduras Cup of Excellence awards, which recognises coffees which score 85 points and above out of 100 in tastings by both a national and international jury. His harvest of Pache (the varietal we’re sharing with you) placed 27th in 2015. In 2016 his crop placed 21st in a much smaller field, and earned a 120% premium on the auction price from the previous year’s crop.
Juan Carlos is dedicated to taking care at every stage of the production process. Coffee is fermented for 36 hours before being washed with clean water from a local spring. It’s first dried on open-air screens (you can see one behind Juan Carlos in the top photo) before being moved to the raised beds, under cover, aiming for slow drying of 17–20 days to completion. Juan Carlos says that caring for his farm means keeping it free from weeds, performing a selective picking and leaving in the trees the green beans and using only the mature. Juan Carlos and other small producers are part of a new movement of farmers who are processing and drying their own coffee. This new group of producers is pursuing quality, aiming to increase the volume of specialty grade coffee exported from Honduras.