Although we have only been working with Pancho for three years, we are quite familiar with the region and, in fact, have been working with Pancho’s brother – Margarito Herrera – since 2012. Since I first met Margarito and tasted his delightful coffee, I have been trying to get his help to convince his family to also consider producing quality coffee to sell to us. During our first year working with Margarito, we were able to persuade his dad – Juan – to work with us, but his brothers have been more difficult to crack, until Pancho agreed in 2016.
Life in El Cielito moves at a slow pace. It is a tiny community halfway up the mountain, and coffee is the only crop grown in the region. Until 2015, the highlands didn’t even have a road. Pancho is one of seven brothers, and they all produce coffee in this amazing area. Historically, they have sold their coffee, unprocessed, to the nearby co-op. Although Margarito has been processing his own coffee and doing very well since 2012, it took until 2015 for Pancho to take notice and take the necessary steps to be able to process his own coffee too. Pancho has been focused on growing and harvesting his coffee, while Margarito has helped him with the processing and his niece Roselis allows him to use her drying infrastructure.
The processing of Pancho’s coffee this year is very simple. He used a hand de-pulper and fermented in plastic tanks. Margarito has gracefully shared his fermentation, washing and drying knowledge, which has helped Pancho immensely. Roselis’ dryer is a parabolic unit with curtains for airflow, and is situated under shade to lower the drying temperature. The shade also promotes slower and more even drying.
We are very happy to be able to share Pancho’s coffee! We look forward to building on our relationship with him, and to getting more of the Herrera/Rodriguez brothers in the Phil & Sebastian line-up.