EL PANTANAL / HONDURAS
Produced by : Marysabel Caballero & Moises Herrera
Farm name : El Pantanal
Origin : Chinacla, La Paz, Honduras
Roast profile: Filter roast
Growing conditions : 1500 – 1600masl
Harvest season: January 2017
Located in Marcala, Honduras, El Pantanal is one of the plantations produced by the Caballero family.
Fourth generation producer Marisabel Caballero and her husband Moises grow coffee on approximately 200 hectares of land with Marisabel's father Fabio.
Marisabel's father, Fabio, is famous for leading the way in improving the quality of coffee in Honduras.
The Caballero family cares about the environment of the farm and is actively working to maintain a healthy farm on an ongoing basis.
In particular, we pay attention to the health condition of the soil of the farm and prepare the environment for growing coffee.
For fertilizer, we mainly use organic compost made by mixing cow and bird droppings and coffee pulp, and we also use mineral compost.
Pickers hired during harvest time use two bags during harvest.
One is for ripe coffee cherries.
The second is to remove immature and damaged beans at the same time.
Pickers are paid higher than average wages because they require skills such as picking and picking only ripe coffee beans.
Through these efforts, we have won numerous awards, and in 2016, we won first place in the Cup of Excellence Honduras, the highest coffee fair.
We first met producers Marizabella & Moises in the summer of 2016.
When they came to Japan, they stopped by the FUGLEN cafe and our roaster.
It was really a coincidence that they were supposed to go to a café, but they ended up at a roaster by mistake, and while talking they learned that they were a famous Honduran coffee producer by the name of Caballero.
It was a surprise day that I will never forget.
In February of this year, I was able to visit their farm when Kojima went to Honduras to inspect their farm.
Even though I had never purchased their coffee before, they kindly explained the farm to me and allowed me to pick up a cup on site.
At that time, the refined coffee was delivered to the roaster in this way, and we were able to introduce it to everyone as Christmas coffee.
When they came to our roster again this fall, we interviewed them about the production background, their philosophy and passion.
■ About the history of the farm
The farm was started in 1907 by Marysabel's great-grandfather.
Marysabel is the 4th generation.
The 2016 Honduras Cup of Excellence 1st place and the most popular coffee of this farm, Finca El Puente was started in 1993 by Moises who came to work from Guatemala.
Originally, El Puente was meant to be purchased by Moises as an investment and returned to Guatemala, but plans changed when he married Marysabel in 1996.
Marysabel, who was a conservative coffee family for generations, did not think about going to other lands, so she will remain in Honduras due to Marysabel's strong request.
Her family was also conservative when it came to coffee farming, but Moises, being an outsider, experimented with new ideas and challenges, successfully cultivating coffee that embraced both tradition and innovation.
■ Annual schedule
Coffee blooms after heavy rains in May, the rainy season.
After the rainy season, the soil is prepared by applying fertilizer (mostly organic) and new coffee plants are planted.
Pruning must be completed before the rainy season in May, otherwise the pruned area will not dry out and damage will occur.
I cut branches that look unhealthy, manage the soil, clean up and take care of the farm.
Also, no herbicides are used because they are bad for workers and the soil.
From around September, we will start maintenance of the machinery and prepare the patio (a place to dry) and the warehouse.
By the end of November, everything should be ready for harvesting and refining.
Harvest time is from mid-December to mid-April.
You have to concentrate 100% on harvesting and refining at this time of year.
Once harvest begins, the wet mill operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If the machine stops even for a few hours, it will cause great damage.
From March to July, coffee shipment work continues, and the dry mill (threshing) process is busy.
Shortly after harvesting and refining in April, we start planning for the offseason.
■Do you have a vacation?
Coffee producers never rest.
I'm thinking about growing coffee 365 days a year.
However, from July to November, when I have relatively more time, I take a break when I invite customers who buy coffee to my farm or when I visit overseas customers.
In addition, customers receive coffee during those times, and because they can taste the coffee, it is a valuable opportunity to receive feedback.
We will use the feedback to further improve quality.
■ When was the turning point for farm management and quality improvement?
In 2003, when I won the 3rd prize in the national competition held for the first time in Honduras, I started visiting various farms and broadened my horizons.
I didn't own a wet mill until my father's generation, but in 1996, when I started making coffee with Moises, I built a wet mill and started refining.
Moises treats the coffee very carefully, refines it and gives it to exporters, but unfortunately it was mixed with other coffees at the time.
“I dreamed that one day all that hard work would pay off and we would notice the difference in our coffee.”
■ Motivation in making coffee
"I'm happiest when the taste of the coffee that I made 365 days a year without stopping thinking about coffee is wonderful. Conversely, when I'm disappointed, when the customer's reaction is not good, I feel very depressed. ."
A year of hard work doesn't show until the last cup is poured.
That's where everything is decided.
Of course, there is also the risk of cup quality down due to unexpected environmental changes such as climate change.
However, we have built a relationship of trust with special customers who have been with us for a long time.
■ Philosophy and El Pantanal
Why do you repeat the same thing and expect different results? There is a saying.
Do your best every day and always think about how you can do better.
For example, we are trying new challenges, such as growing various varieties.
El Pantanal is one of the farm plots and the main variety is Catuai.
Located at 1560m above sea level, it ships for the Nordic Approach.
Pantanal = Wetland, and before we started growing it was said to be damp and nothing would grow.
When I named it, I named it El Pantanal because it is a wetland next to the Amazon, because there is La Amazonas (Amazon), a plot where Java seeds are grown next to it.