Jose María Lopez planted his farm is in the picturesque La Leona region of Santa Barbara in 2009. Jose María is a retired doctor who developed a strong passion for coffee. His thirst for knowledge and his desire to push the industry forward have propelled him to the top of his game in short order. With the help of his wife Yolanda and their son, Tarquino, the three of them meticulously run their farm and mill.
One of the things I really appreciate about Jose María is that he only wants to do things the right way. When he started in 2009, he didn’t have any previous experience in coffee and based some of his early decisions on what others in the region had done. He began by planting Pacas, Bourbon and some Catimor (IHCAFE-90) on his farm and set up a simple wet mill.
In 2013 he had his first harvest and sold his coffee to a local exporter, who then blended it with other regional coffees and sold it on the commodity market. It was not until 2016 that he began working with Benjamin Paz from San Vicente. Benjamin, passionate about helping farmers produce better quality coffee, began giving Jose María advice, and improvements quickly began at the farm. Since then, Jose María has teamed up with his wife Yolanda and his son Tarquino to create a well-run farm.
Yolanda is now in charge of running the farm (planting, pruning, soil management, picking). Tarquino heads up the coffee fermentation and washing. Jose Maria has taken the reigns in the drying department – he is keen on a slow, controlled drying process with a precise endpoint – music to my ears. Originally, I met Tarquino five years ago when he was starting to take note of good drying practices and had a chance to help him calibrate a moisture meter and share my thoughts on the importance of proper drying. Jose María’s science background has been instrumental in developing a plan for the farm that is methodical and precise. While Jose María, Yolanda, and Tarquino are relatively new producers, they have made tremendous strides in just a few short years and we have no doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with. This years’ coffee is 100% Pacas.
In October 2019, we were privileged to host Jose Maria, Yolanda, and Tarquino for a public tasting at our roasterie in Calgary. They were gracious enough to spend time with Calgarians who wanted to come and learn from them, ask questions about coffee farming, and hear the stories they have accumulated so far in their journey as producers. It was a “full-circle” moment for us, one that we hope to experience again in the future.
When we meet a coffee producer who so clearly shares our vision for coffee, we get excited for the future, because it is through these types of partnerships that we can take part in pushing quality forward and contributing to our industry.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on its arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.