We’ve been working with these two wonderful people for almost a decade and for this year’s holidays we wanted to bring you a little closer to them. I had a couple of calls with Moises, and he shared with me how they spend and celebrate the holidays in Honduras.
For Moises and Marysabel, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. Their hometown of Marcala is very observant, so going to church is a central part of celebrating Christmas. After Christmas services at their church, they gather with family and friends and the celebration involves a feast of typical Christmas dishes like tamales, turkey (known as ‘jolote’), roasted pork (Moises’ favourite) and various salads. They also make a couple of traditional hot drinks; one is called ‘Rompopo’, which is the closest thing to Eggnog you will find in Central America. The second is a tea they call ‘ponche de piña’, which has orange, pineapple, cinnamon, pepper, and clove. After the feast, they all gather and do a big gift exchange; and naturally, many fireworks, both official and unofficial are involved!
New Year’s Eve also starts with a visit to the church, followed by a large feast with much of the same foods as the Christmas dinners. Of course, on the 31st it’s customary to wait until midnight and then have a toast and welcome in the new year. Another classic snack for the holidays is ‘torrejas con chilate’ – torrejas is a sweet white bread; and chilate is a corn-based drink with allspice. Marysabel’s favourite are ‘pastelitos de carne’ – a local empanada with beef, candied papaya, and dried fruits.
Christmas and New Years are both holidays that Hondurans take seriously and use it as a time for reflection and appreciation for those around them. It’s for this reason that the families place great importance in spending Christmas and New Year’s together.
Here’s some more info on Moises and Marysabel and their coffee:
Moises Herrera and Marysabel Caballero are no strangers to coffee. Marysabel is a fourth-generation coffee producer originally from Marcala and Moises, who is originally from Guatemala, has been growing coffee for decades. Besides being great coffee producers, they are wonderful people. Farm workers, family members and friends are all attracted to Marysabel’s smile and positive personality. One of my favourite things to do when I visit them is to walk around the town of Marcala with Marysabel; nearly everyone she walks by stops to give her a hug and speak to her. This is our ninth year working with them; we are thankful for their coffee and the friendship we’ve forged.
Marcala is quite different than other coffee growing regions. It is quite dry, rocky, and full of pine trees. Moises is a real student of coffee – he is presently experimenting with over 25 varieties, with the hopes of planting some of them in larger quantities. Their Geisha comes with a winning track record. It is so good that these two wonderful people were rewarded for their hard work in 2016, when they took first place in the Honduras Cup of Excellence!
One of the most interesting experiments that Moises is undertaking is to grow coffee under a green house. He currently has a half hectare green house where he has planted several varieties. They are thriving in the cozy environment. He is planning on expanding this operation and producing small quantities of coffee to evaluate, compare, and learn. During my visits, I always enjoy lengthy quality-driven conversations with the open and adventurous Moises. I can’t wait for when I can return to visit and have more of these candid discussions!
Between 2014 and 2017, Moises and Marysabel completely altered their raised bed drying and introduced shade. This shade-drying method, combined with strong existing practices at the farm, have resulted in a super sweet and balanced coffee, packed with attributes that make it a wonderful filter or espresso.
Moises and Marysabel show great interest in the environmental sustainability of their farms. Marysabel’s dad, Don Fabio, also owns a cattle farm at their house. They collect the cow manure and mix it with pulp from the coffee cherries to create organic fertilizer. This care and attention are the right ingredients for creating a healthy and sustainable environment for the coffee trees.
As mentioned above, and as we do with all our coffees, this green was frozen immediately upon arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.