In 2006, Wilmer decided to test the quality of his farm and submitted a small lot into the Honduras Cup of Excellence. To his surprise and pleasure, his entry placed 25th, proving his coffee is special and has potential. A year later Wilmer had an opportunity to work in the US and spent the next five years working as a foreman on a mushroom farm in California. Although the income was enticing, he decided to return to Honduras and resume his life as a coffee producer. This time, though, he was determined to make his coffee better.
Back in 2012, I met Wilmer and expressed an interest in buying his coffee directly. Prior to that, Wilmer was selling it on the commodity market for much lower prices. Wilmer knew that his farm had potential and was keen to implement projects to realize it. I was really impressed by his determination.
So in 2013, we purchased all of Wilmer’s production. Although the coffee tasted very good in Honduras, it lost a lot of character during transport and tasted more subdued when it arrived in Calgary. We saw this as an opportunity for improvement and in 2014, Wilmer and I worked together to set up parabolic drying beds. We financed the cost of the materials and Wilmer built the beds and the parabolic cover prior to the start of the harvest. We worked with Wilmer to set up drying protocols to slow down the drying process, create more even drying and avoid exposing the green coffee to high temperatures.
In 2015, we took it a step further and worked with Wilmer to add shade to his drying structures. I visited Wilmer many times in the years pre-Covid to ensure that the shaded drying was working as expected. Throughout my visits, I always felt that Wilmer was ready to try his hand at growing more exotic varieties, so in 2016, I was able to smuggle in some Geisha seeds to Honduras and shared them with him. The history of the seeds is intriguing because they come from none other than the Hartmann family in Panama – known for their revered Geisha. Wilmer set up a nursery of Geisha in 2016 and planted them in 2017.