Farm: Finca Fredy
Varietal: 100% Catuaí
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1,550 metres above sea level
Owner: Fredy' Rolando Pineda Roque
Finca Fredy Organic – 100% Catuaí - Honduras
Finca ‘Fredy’ is owned by coffee producer Rolando Pineda Roque, who hails from the municipality of Corquin in Western Honduras. Rolando (or ‘Fredy’ as he is known) is 33 years old and is married to Mirian Suyapa Aguilar with whom he has an 8 year old daughter, Keyla. Keyla is Fredy’s true inspiration in life: ensuring her future is of utmost importance to him and the rationale for his every decision.
This is why five years ago Fredy joined the Asociativa Campesina de Producción ARUCO (ARUCO), a coffee cooperative established in Coban in 2006. Starting with just 14 producers from the local surrounds, the cooperative has today grown to serve around 170 producers from across Coban. The cooperative is committed to creating new market opportunities for their producer members, and several years ago they instigated a micro-lot program which separated out the cooperative’s highest quality lots to be sold on higher value speciality markets.
Finca ‘Fredy’ covers around 2 hectares, all of which was planted under Catuaí around 10 years ago by Fredy’s father, Francisco Roque, from whom he inherited the farm and who actually named the farm after Fredy himself! At 1,550 metres above sea level, the farm is well situated for the production of high-quality coffee. However, prior to joining ARUCO, neither Fredy nor his father had the opportunity to access higher value markets for his coffee. Thanks to the cooperative’s pioneering micro-lot program (see below) he has been given the opportunity to make a name for his farm and earn better prices for his coffee – ultimately paving the way to better opportunities for his daughter.
ARUCO has been incredibly supportive in helping Fredy meet his dreams for his family by helping him to increase and improve their production. The cooperative’s agricultural technicians help Fredy advise on soil fertility and on organic methods of controlling disease and pests. The cooperative even provides pre-financing for the harvest, helping Fredy to continue investing in his coffee production during those crucial months just before the money from that year’s harvest starts coming in.
Fredy has been directly participating in the ARUCO microlot programme for three years, and each year a greater percentage of his coffee is sold to international speciality buyers. As a result of his involvement, he hopes to enter into a long-term and durable relationship with a speciality importer and to work with ARUCO to develop his coffee’s profile for that importer’s specific market. For him, growing together in this way - with a strong feed-back loop between all links in the supply chain - is the true direction for sustainability.
The Harvest & Processing
Fredy’s work day starts at 5 am on most days and during the greater part of the year he works until around 4 pm in his coffee parcel (obviously working longer hours during the harvest). He and his wife arise at the same hour – always optimistic that the day will give them more opportunities for the family to advance in their dreams. The first step of the day for Fredy is feeding the cattle, which he usually does while Mirian prepares breakfast and lunch (the latter of which he will bring to work with him). The activities that Fredy completes each day depend on the time of the year. Some days will be devoted entirely to weed control by hand or to pruning. Other days may involve regulating shade or planting out new plants to replace those that are no longer productive. Each day ends with him bringing in the cattle from their grazing and joining his family for a meal and rest after a long but fulfilling day.
Fredy is one of a group of ARUCO members who have their own wet mills. Upon deciding that he wanted to participate in the microlot program, ARUCO technicians visited his mill and made recommendations for improvements. They also visit at least twice a week during the harvest to ensure that all processing is being correctly executed.
All coffee is first selectively hand harvested, and after that day’s picking is complete, Fredy carries the ripe cherry home and begins pulping – usually around 3 pm in the afternoon. His farm is about an hour from his mill, which is located at his home.
For Fredy’s micro-lots such as this one extra care is used. Coffee is pre-sorted, removing all underripe and damaged beans, on the same day that it is picked. It is then carefully pulped on a setting that will avoid breakage of beans and then delivered to tile-lined fermentation tanks, where it is fermented. Coffee is fermented for around 12 hours, though this varies according to the climate at the time. After a perfect state of fermentation is achieved, the beans are washed completely in clean water.
The resulting parchment coffee is first rested to remove excess water. The coffee is then moved to wooden boxes/beds to dry. Here, the coffee will be turned regularly until it reaches between 11% and 12% humidity.
Once the coffee is ready, it is moved to ARUCO’s facilities for storage. A sample is taken from each microlot, which is cupped by ARUCO’s team of highly trained and experienced cuppers in their cupping lab.
The coop ensures very strict monitoring, quality control and secure storage and prepares the coffee for export under the strictest safety and traceability standards.
ARUCO’s relatively new microlot program is small, but it is growing. In 2011-12, when the program first started, only 4 or 5 producers participated. For 2016, 25 producers were able to access better prices for their coffee through the program. This growth can be attributed to the transparency with which ARUCO runs the program and the successes that participating producers have experienced.
ARUCO provides a very wide range of services to their producer members and have instigated numerous programs aimed at improving quality of life in Coban and helping producers combat the many challenges they face. You can read more about them on their excellent website and on our blog post detailing the work of some of the women involved with the group.
After the results of the 2015-2016 harvest, Fredy has been motivated to seek more advice in order to improve the cup profile of his coffees and in order to be able to provide more information about processing and post-harvest activities to the buyer. With the cooperative’s help, Fredy hopes to be able to expand his coffee production and the size of his farm, too. He plans to erect solar dryers and to invest in his wet mill in order to further improve the quality of his coffee and also wants to diversify his shade by planting fruit trees. These activities will pave the way to better coffee and better quality of life for his family – most importantly, his daughter!