Farm: Finca Florencia
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon & Lempira
Processing: Fully washed & dried on patios
Altitude: 1,640 metres above sea level
Owner: Isaura Martinez
Town / City: Florida de Opatoro
Region: La Paz
Overall: Cherry, chocolate, medium body, caramel
Finca Florencia - Honduras
Finca Florencia lies across 21 hectares of prime coffee growing land near the town of Florida de Opatoro in Honduras’s La Paz Department. Dona Isaura inherited the farm from her father, who used to produce and export as many as 52 lots of coffee per year...by himself! Don Roberto Martinez owned several farms and was at one time the largest coffee producer in the region.... some say in the country. In fact, Finca Florencia was (perhaps unimaginatively) named as he kept purchasing farms from different neighbours and simply named each lot purchased after the previous owners.
Don Roberto and his wife had three children – two girls and one boy. When he passed away, Doña Isaura’s brother inherited the land; however, he also passed on not long after his father, leaving the two sisters in charge of the whole coffee operation.
One can only imagine what a difficult predicament this was to be for Doña Isaura and her sister. When they were growing up, women from rural regions in Honduras very rarely received much education, and they tended to be very removed from the agricultural management of what were, almost invariably, their fathers’ farms. When the two sisters inherited the farm, they knew virtually nothing about running a farm – other than the everyday small tasks to which their father had set them when they were young. They knew even less about running a business. They struggled a great deal to keep the pieces together. However, eventually, by working together with their family and with neighbours, they managed to save 35 hectares of the beautiful coffee estate that composes Finca Florencia today and have made the farm a great success.
With a great deal of hard work and perseverance, she has managed to make a name for the farm, even winning regional coffee competitions (which is how this coffee came to our exporting partner’s attention in the first place!). They do not currently have the help of a specialized agronomist, as it is very costly; however they have been guided by friends and neighbours, who have given very good advice.
Today, most daily cultivation activities are conducted by Doña Isaura and her family, with continued help from neighbours. Very few chemical fertilisers are used on the farm, and no herbicides or pesticides are used. Pruning and weed control are done on a regular basis.
Most renovation activities on the farm have been with Lempira, due to the incidence of coffee leaf rust in the area. However, with their vulnerable Bourbon and Typica trees, many of which are as old as the farm itself, Doña Isaura realises that they may need technical help in order to ensure better conservation and better cup profile far into the future. Being able to sell their coffee at a good price has provided a great incentive to renovate with traditional varietals rather than Catimor strains. They are making every effort to maintain production with these and are committed to improving year after year.
During the harvest season, an additional 7 workers are added on to the workforce. Coffee is always picked and separated according to geographical lots, and all coffee is selectively hand harvested, with only the ripest cherries being picked.
The farm has its own small wet mill, where all coffee is machine pulped on the same day that it is picked. The coffee is then delivered to fermentation tanks, where it ferments for 8 to 24 hours depending on the climate at the time. Processing practices are admittedly ‘rustic’ and the farm uses the ‘stick’ method to determine when coffee is ready to be washed. When a pole pushed into the centre of the pile of coffee continues to stand up straight, it means the coffee is ready. After fermentation, the coffee is run through a canal with water. At this stage, any floaters or underweight coffee beans are removed.
After the coffee is fully washed, it is delivered to dry on the farm’s patios.
Doña Isaura has great hopes for the farm’s future and is making every effort to continue improving the farm’s practices. Her main goal is to leave a legacy of high quality future and a well managed farm for the future. Oh, and also...she’s making sure the women in her family are learning the skills they need to run a farm!