Featured Shade-Grown The Farmers

Meet Juan de la Cruz Vasquez

By Jon Ferguson | November 23, 2020

The Farmer Behind Small Batch No. 1 of The Heritage Coffee Series

Within the rain forest community of Carrizal, you will find El Naranjo.This 2-acre farm in Honduras is home to Juan de la Cruz Vasquez and his wife and three children. It is also where the coffee from The Heritage Coffee Series Small Batch No. 01 was grown, harvested, and processed.

Read: Celebrating the Heritage of Shade-Grown Coffee

Previously, Juan had sold his family’s coffee in cherry form to the local middleman for mass processing and market distribution. But the price he was being paid didn’t match the high quality of his organic, shade-grown crop. A few years ago, he began working with Catracha Coffee Company — one of our local partners in Honduras dedicated to connecting the Santa Elena coffee growing community with specialty roasters. Juan saw this partnership as a great path to better access to the specialty coffee market — which is how he connected with Arbor Day Coffee.

A Serious Dedication to Sustainability

Juan has made several improvements to his farm management practices. He uses lime to control the pH of his soil, fertilizes with organic compost, and applies organic fungicides to control levels of leaf rust — improving the overall health of his farm and the quality of his coffee production.

Juan has also begun processing his coffee using his own micro-mill so that he can depulp, ferment, and dry his coffee right onsite. This year Juan followed a strict processing protocol, which included taking brix measurements and hand-sorting and floating cherries to remove underripe, damaged, and less dense beans. His depulped coffee is dry-fermented in a sealed drum for 20 hours and then placed on shade cloth to dry in the sun with the mucilage still attached to the bean. The resulting honey-processed coffee has the same clean, crisp acidity as a washed coffee but with an additional fruit-forward aroma and flavor. This process also lets Juan skip the washing stage and significantly reduce water consumption.

Read: How Coffee Processing Methods Affect Coffee

The Importance of the Trees

Juan’s farm has traditional coffee varieties, which require protection from the sun. The farm has several different kinds of shade trees including Diphysa americana (guachipilin), sweetgum, (Liquidambar), and Inga (guajiniquil). The farm also has a number of fruit-bearing trees including several varieties of banana, avocado, and mango trees.  All of these trees and horticulture make El Naranjo incredibly self-sufficient and support food security for Juan and his family.

This is the first year Juan has processed enough coffee for a single-producer micro-lot, and we’re excited to share this amazing coffee with all of you. As a small batch, however, it is available in a limited quantity. Order now for delivery right to your door.

Once Small Batch No. 1 is sold out, we will begin offering the Heritage Coffee Series Small Batch No. 2 from David Benitez, a neighboring coffee producer in Honduras. To follow the Heritage Coffee Series and learn more about our coffee producer line up, visit arborday.org/heritageseries.

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