Farm: Finca Lalita
Varietal: Red Catuaí & Lempira
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1,450 to 1,550 metres above sea level
Owner: Kensy Torres
Town / City: Rio Bonito
Overall: Orange, citrus & creamy.
Finca Lalita - Honduras
Finca Lalita, situated in Honduras’s Cerro Azul Meambar National Reserve, was purchased by Kensey Torres in 2011. The farm itself is relatively new but was established by a Honduran family who has long farmed coffee and that focused on establishing a wide range of varietals that do well at the farm’s high elevation, including Red Catuaí, Orange Bourbon, Geisha, Pacamara & Lempira. The foundations of the farm are solid, and Kensey has made the most of them and her own family’s extensive coffee farming experience by focusing on stringent cultivation practices in order to produce high quality lots.
When Kensey took over the farm, she gave it the lyrical name ‘Lalita’. Her maternal grandmother was named Eulalia: nickname Lalita. Eulalia had always been an inspiration to Kensey and was the person she most admired. When Grandmother ‘Lalita’ passed away, naming the farm in her honour was a way to keep her (and her dedication to coffee!) alive in the hearts of those who knew her.
Much of the work on the farm is done by Kensey and her family; however, they also hire 4 people year-round to help with the work necessary to ensure healthy and happy coffee trees.
The first post-harvest activity begins around a month after the previous harvest is complete. An application of lime must be made (encalar) to help reduce soil acidity; a month later, the first fertilisation is made. The farm will receive three rounds of fertilisation annually to keep the trees healthy, productive and resistant to disease.
Shortly after the harvest, as well, the coffee trees are pruned to eliminate unproductive trees and those that became damaged during the previous harvest. Shade is managed at the same time to ensure the perfect balance of sunlight, protection and temperature control. The pruning schedule rotates with hand-managed weed control, completed with a machete (pando) in order to reduce the risk of erosion.
The Harvest & Processing
The family is usually ready to begin harvesting at the beginning of December. The whole family assists with the activities, but local workers are hired, as well, throughout the season. Kensey gives employment to between 30 and 40 people daily to help during the harvest season, and pickers are all trained in selective harvesting so that only perfectly ripe cherries make it into every lot.
Coffee is always transported to the wet mill on the same day as being picked. Kensey does not have her own facilities but, rather, uses the mill belonging to Exportadora Café Azúl Meambar, located in San Pedro Sula, about an hour and a half from the farm.
Once it arrives, coffee is immediately sorted, removing all underripe and damaged beans and is then carefully dry pulped into a tank. It is then fermented for between 8 to 14 hours until the mucilage is completely depleted. After this, the coffee is washed in clean water.
The coffee is rested for an hour or two to remove excess water and is then delivered to the drying patios, where it will dry for between 15 to 20 days. It is quite common for it to rain during the harvest season in Comayagua, and sometimes coffee is moved to raised beds to ensure even drying. In both cases, the parchment coffee will be turned regularly to ensure even drying.
The coffee is then rested and is then stored at the wet-mill’s warehouse until it is ready for export.