SUPER SUCRÉÉÉ - Hugo Rene Garcia Quinteros
1st Semilla offer!
Farmer: Hugo Rene Garcia Quinteros
Origin / Origine: Nuevo Santa Rosa, Guatemala
Varietals: Yellow Catuai
Notes: maple taffy, persimmon, chocolate milk
The 1st alongside Semilla
Semilla is a very young project but has big dreams that are being grinded away at very effectively. We're proud to start what we hope will be a long, meaningful relationship so that we may learn from each other, & from those who produce this wonderful raw product we cherish every morning.
We alone, as a coffee company can only do so much, but if we band together, coffee roasters, buyers, importers, exporters....we can change a great deal. Will it be perfect? no. Will it still need improving? For sure, but in the words of Ian MacKaye of the infamous punk band, Minor Threat;
"You tell me I make no difference. At least I'm fucking trying! WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?!"
Here is what Semilla is and stands for in their own words, taken from their web page in hopes that we can further spread their message. There is quite a great deal of information here but if you are interested in some of what is presented we invite you to continue reading & learning at https://www.semilla.ca
Semilla was founded by Brendan Adams in 2019 on the principles of support and advocacy — to represent specific groups, for better or worse, in finding a market for their coffee. Through many years of working as a green buyer and coffee roaster, gaps in specialty buying became increasingly clear -- in broad strokes, a pattern of competing for top lots produced by well resourced, trained and educated producers became evident while communities seeking access were often overlooked.
For Semilla, coffee is more than the seed of a tropical fruit that can be transformed into a delicious beverage with proper care along all stages. It's a material that connects history, society, politics, culture, international policy, philosophy, and more. It contains years and year of hard work, and it directly affects the livelihoods of millions the world over. So, the question becomes, how do we maximize the specialty market so that we can make the biggest impact on the most amount of people, while also brining forth a high quality product to the end consumer?
In our small part, we can commit to specific communities who have the energy and passion to connect to the specialty market and we can broaden and deepen our commitment to them rather than buying only the top lots. We can speak about coffees as the product of people rather than only for its sensory attributes. And we can work in close collaboration with these groups to listen to what they need to succeed - from meeting the prices they request, to investing in a physical and intellectual infrastructure that will allow them to thrive in this market.
In short, we commit to the slow and steady work of buying solid coffees from producers without access, and seeking to see the rising tide float all boats.
This isn’t common, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, but we choose our paths for a reason — what’s yours?
About Hugo, Coffee, & Honduras in his words
My farm was founded by my maternal grandparents, they were the ones who
started to grow coffee. After many years they bequeathed the farm to my
parents but my father had left the farm very abandoned.
At 14 year old I started working the farm. For fertilizer, I used cattle manure and
it was also at that age that I started to sprout my own seedlings to have new
plantations in the finca. The variety that I reproduced was yellow catuai.
When I eventually ran out of space to plant more trees, my father inherited
another portion of land where I made another new plantation.
Five years later I bought another piece of land from my uncle and in 1998, he
allowed me to plant another plot on a piece of forest land that he owned.
In the year 2000 I emigrated to the United States for 5 years. The reason was
that there was no possibility of a fair market in coffee at that time. After 5
years, I returned with money I made to maintain my farm and continue
working in what I truely enjoy, which is coffee.
For me, being able to export my coffee this year, for the very first time, is
something unique. Since I was able to receive a better sales price and have
more profitability from my property, I hope to be able to export more coffee
from my farm in the future. I hope to be able to travel one day to Canada and
see the great work done by the friends who buy our coffee from us.
I try to keep my farm away from pesticides and triazoles, I only work with soil
fertilization and weed cleaning, I have regulated shade for coffee, to simulate
a forest and maintain diversity in the region.
We started alongside my colleagues in the resistance against chemical silver
mining in 2013, we are still present in the resistance today.
About Cafe Colis Resistencia
Cafe Colis Resistencia is the name created by Alex Reynoso to identify coffee
producing members of the Indigenous Xinka community around
Mataquescuintla who are interested in developing an international market for
their coffee, and therefore finally receiving fair prices for their work.
Within Mataquescuintla and area, nearly 90% of the population identifies as a
coffee producer and yet, almost none of these producers have access to a
market beyond selling in cherry to local intermediaries or to large farms who
process their coffee and sell it as blended lots to their international market.
While theoretically the price of cherry is decided in relation to the New York
Stock Exchange coffee commodity price, really anything goes for these
buyers. As producers have little to no option, they simply sell to whoever they
can, and accept whatever price is offered.
This year, of course, things changed. Throughout the harvest, we saw steadily
increasing prices as buyers fought over low yielding farms while the
commodity market price soared to heights unseen in years. As we’ve said
many times over, the fact that prices are higher is always a good thing
however, due to the rampant pace of global inflation throughout this year
many farmers didn’t see this price boost as a profit windfall but as the same
thing but different.
To put into context what it means for prices to “go up” locally, it was often the
case for us to hear over the last three years prices as low as 115-130 Quetzal
for 100 pounds of cherry. Taking a yield factor of 1:4.5 - 1:5, that equalled 585 -
650 Quetzal per quintal of parchment coffee, which is roughly $0.82USD/lb.
This year, it took until the end of the year - when coffee was becoming
increasingly scarce - for these buyers who were paying their highest ever
prices to arrive to 300 Quetzal/quintal of cherry, roughly in line with the 1500
Quetzal/quintal parchment we’ve been paying previously.
As a means of solidarity with the group for their patience in waiting for the
end of the harvest to be paid, as well as in consideration for their increased
costs, we increased our pricing by 20$ to 1750-1775 Quetzal/quintal
parchment this year. Likely, we won’t bring this down ever again, though we’re
quite sure that the market will begin to trend down again. Even if the
commodity market stays high, the return to average or above average crop
cycles will likely lead to much less speculation on the local level.
Aside from this price spike, the same structures we’ve seen since day one
continue to pervade for smallholders in Guatemala, and the smallholders we
work with continue to receive little or no support for their country as regards
their coffee production.
Indeed, Guatemala’s history of coffee production has always erred to the
support of major landowners of European or Mestizo descent, and relied upon
the forced labor of Indigenous people to claim its place as one of Central
America’s largest coffee producers (Read more about the mandamiento
system.). This violent and painful system leaves its vestigial remains in the
monopolio that exists today — in short, a system of production and export in
which the government supports major landholders while holding back
resources and access to small producers such as those in Mataquescuintla.
This monopoly not only keeps producers away from the market access they
need for truly sustainable prices, but it also keeps them away from technical
assistance and education that could propel them forward. As such, producers
like Juan are left to fend for themselves in this incredibly challenging
transition from a lifetime of selling in cherry to processing and drying their
own coffee for sale as micro-lots. This lack of assistance is only underscored
by the closure in the last few years of Anacafe’s technical assistance office in
Mataquescuintla. Despite being one of the highest altitude areas in
Guatemala, with some of the highest potential quality for coffee, Anacafe
chose to remove themselves citing in part the protests against the mine.