Neighbors: The Coffee Folk

Doña Santos is a very respected member of our community married to a great man named Arnulfo. Together they live on a 10-acre coffee farm (finca in Spanish) on the edge of Las Lomitas.

For years and years, they have been a part of the community, but at the same time, lived in their own little world there in their finca. At the bottom of a long slick hill, they live in a little wooden home amidst their beloved dozens of turkeys, chickens, ducks and hogs. For a little while years ago, they tried to live in a more urban setting, but their neighbors didn't share their affection for poultry, so they moved back out into the country. Anytime we visit, they treat us like family and sit us down in their kitchen for one of her famous cups of coffee and and animated conversation.

Their humble homestead sits in the middle of their beautiful finca. Coffee grows best in shade, so all of their property is covered in a variety of trees. Some of these trees bear local fruits, others are old rainforest trees, others still are grown exclusively for their shade. Under these trees grows their coffee in the outstanding soil of our mountain. Along with the rest of Las Lomitas, they live at an elevation of 2200 feet, well within the ideal altitudinal range for coffee growing. We also receive an intense amount of rain, allowing the coffee to grow rapidly. These factors combined provide for a high quality coffee harvest every year from October through December.

In November, we went down to pick up some coffee from Doña Santos to bring back as gifts for our family. They sell the majority of their coffee to large coffee companies, however, they process some of it for personal use. In order for them to make this coffee, they start by harvesting the ripe, red beans from plants that are at least three years old and process the beans in a machine that separates the pulpy exterior from the interior bean from which coffee is made. These fresh beans are then washed in large vats of water. Upon removal, the beans are laid out for a day or two to dry in the sun on large concrete pads or tarps. It is at this point that the beans are weighed and sold to a purchaser, but for personal use, the process continues. This woman makes a very special cup of coffee.

The dried beans are then roasted by the Doña on a large sheet of metal over a wood fire. She slowly moves the beans back and forth as they heat. As the beans reach a dark, roasted color, she adds local cane sugar to carmelize the bean. After the beans have dried and hardened, they are passed through a hand grinder, leaving in a fine consistency. After the coffee is passed through, she adds another special touch. She takes dried seeds from her allspice trees and grinds a small amount into the coffee. This spice adds a flavor to the coffee that makes the brew totally different from anything most people have ever tried.

Every cup of coffee from this family comes through dedication and hard work. Traits that have characterized their lives and allowed them to be content and successful in their context. Even in their 60s, these people work hard every day, but are truly happy, and it shows in their faces. They have raised their family to be hard workers, and their son, Luis, has been an incredible friend to us in Honduras and showed us the true meaning of service and work ethic.

Damos gracias a Dios por: la amistad de este familia especial. We give thanks to God for this special family. 

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