The story behind La Valentina.
The latest coffee to grace our Micro-Lot range is an elegant little treasure from Honduras, which has been produced with expertise, care and love. The coffee was grown by Carlos Ernestor Mejia Rodriguez and his wife, Nelsy Castillo David, so it seemed only right that they name their farm and thus their coffee after their first daughter, Valentina.
We caught up with Carlos to find out more about life as a coffee grower and the secret behind their stunningly flavoursome, perfectly-balanced beans.
Pact: How long have you been growing coffee?
Carlos: Since I was 20 years old. In our community of San Pedro de Tutule, everyone has a plot of land where they grow coffee. No matter what their profession. So, even though my parents sent me to the city to study, I still had 2,000 coffee plants to look after as well.
Pact: So pretty much everyone produces coffee where you’re from?
Carlos: Yes. This custom has been carried on from generation to generation, in the good and the bad times, we don’t stop the coffee production. We all share advice on how to grow the best-tasting coffee. And celebrate each other’s success.
Carlos: Yes. Our region produces such delicious coffee that it is considered a reserve for specialty coffees like Valentina. It is also beautiful. Our farm is on the Montecillos Mountain Range, located at approximately 1650 metres above sea level. It isn’t too big but we feel very lucky to live and work here. We love it.
Pact: So in a region of coffee-growing experts, who has taught you the most about growing coffee?
Carlos: My parents were both talented coffee producers but it’s my wife Nelsy’s mother who gave us our land. She taught us how to work it alongside her to produce the best coffee. My mother-in-law is a very hard-working woman, she showed us that the more effort we put into the plants, the better the harvest.
Pact: So do you like coffee yourself?
Carlos: Of course! We feel great satisfaction in harvesting something that we love and we’ve worked hard for. Growing specialty coffee isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort.
Pact: So what’s it like on La Valentina at harvest time?
Carlos: It’s a busy time but everyone on the farm works with great care. Each bean is only collected when it’s 100% red [ripe]. Then they are ecologically pulped and fermented to get that special touch of quality. Once washed, the coffee is dried in dome-shaped solar dryers, which have elevated screens. That means there is no contact with the floor and the drying process is hygenic and uniform. My wife is in charge of this process and she has worked hard to improve the quality of our coffee in recent harvests. She is a hard-working woman like her mother!
Pact: So it’s a real family effort…
Carlos: Oh yes, the entire family is involved from the harvest to the drying process. But we also hire 20 temporary workers to harvest all the coffee and six permanent workers, who are in charge of the milling process. We’re proud that our farm generates jobs in our community.
Pact: So what advice do you share with your fellow coffee-farmers?
Carlos: To grow special coffee you have to learn to produce and handle coffee with love. Only then will it be good enough to enter the specialty coffee markets abroad. Every day I will keep improving my coffee’s quality and I hope to pass on my love for quality coffee to my descendants – including Valentina of course!