Farm: San Antonio
Varietal: Mundo Maya (Hybrid H16)
Processing: Natural dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1250 meters above sea level
Owner: Edward ‘Teddy’ Esteve
Town / City: 15°07'26.2
Finca San Antonio Chicharras Chiapas - Mexico
On the most Sothern tip of Mexico in the remote region of Soconusco, sits Teddy Esteve’s mighty 400-hectare estate. Purchased in 2009, today the San Antonio estate is characterised by its sustainable focus and trend-setting standards for Mexican specialty coffee.
Bordering Guatemala, Soconusco is wedged between the Sierra Madre de Chiapas Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This unique location provides a great challenge for coffee farming at San Antonio. With annual rain full averaging 4300mm and humidity typically range between 85% and 99%, fermenting and drying coffee cherry without the presence of bacteria and fungus can be difficult. Not only does the climate offer a constant struggle, in 2013, San Antonio was also hard hit by coffee leaf rust, meaning the farm had to be completely renewed; leaving Teddy starting from scratch. Seven years on and with the help of Teddy’s team of experts, San Antonio is once again producing some great coffees.
Teddy’s primary focus for San Antonio is his commitment to sustainability, for both the environment and the wellbeing of his staff; of which he employees 100 during the low season and 450 in the high season. Regular investment in infrastructure means that Teddy is always looking to better both his crop and the work environment for his team. San Antonio’s work with Fundación C.a.F.E has meant that all staff now has access to learning materials, helping improve the literacy rate of the migrating pickers who often travel north from Guatemala for work. Workers also receive wages above Mexico’s established minimum wage, with a bonus structure set to reward productivity. For the environment, 20 hectares of the remaining 61 hectares not used for coffee are set aside for conservation, encouraging natural fauna and wildlife in the region.
For upkeep at San Antonio, fertilisers are created using the results of in-depth soil analysis, providing each tree with the exact percentage of nutrients needed. Pruning is only conducted intermittently, addressing mainly non-productive areas. For varieties, just 27% of the farm is made up of hybrids such as Mundo Maya (Hybrid H16); an F1 hybrid developed by ECOM & CIRAD as high-yielding, high cup quality options with higher resistance to coffee leaf rust. Teddy also populates his land with a mix of Marseillaise (48%), Starmaya (15%) and even some specialty Robusta (10%), all selected for their high production rate and resistance to leaf rust.
For processing at San Antonio, lots are always kept separated according to variety. Once they have been selectively handpicked, the coffee cherry is delivered to the mill. The cherry is initially cleaned and floated in freshwater to remove any floaters known as ‘vanos’. Next, the coffee cherry is transported to raised beds to dry. Here, close attention is paid, with thermometers used to control ambient temperatures and relative humidity. Coffee cherry will remain here for up to 30 days, slow drying at a temperature between 16-24 ° C. Finally, once a moisture content of below 12% is recorded, the coffee cherry is packed and driven to the mill some 900kms away to Veracruz on the other side of Mexico; selected due to its proximity to the export port.