How I tell our story
There seems to be an underlying desire to know peoples’ stories. The other night we were watching a talent show with the kids. It seems like everybody got the same questions: “What is your name?”, “Where do you come from?”, “What is your Story?”, and “What are you going to perform for us today?”. Thirty to forty seconds later, the contestant either passed or was asked to go home. This whole scenario was rather entertaining, but for those put on the spot, I bet it was total hell! Coffee is no different.
It’s those people that put in the sacrifice, risk all, and commit passionately to what they have set forth before them, the ones that might get an opportunity to succeed.
Our story begins many years ago. As a child I remember visiting my grandfather’s farm on the southern coast of Guatemala. Not that I was learning how to produce coffee, I was just having a fun time playing on his old patios and admiring his old machinery as coffee was being picked, milled, and dried.
I have faint memories of my father giving me some explanations as to what was going on, but those memories, though few and faint, are extremely cherished.
As the years quickly passed by, life was taking me on a journey living with my divorced mom in a special place she called home: Mississippi. I kept strong relationships with my parents even while I lived a couple years in Guatemala, and then a few in Mississippi, and then back again, throughout all my youth. But by the time I was sixteen I had already lost my Guatemalan grandfather and my father.
At this point any chance I had of inheriting two generations of knowledge was lost.
But for whatever reason, just like my old pet bird dog, who would chase birds out of some deep hidden instinct that made her point at anything that had feathers on it. I too felt a hidden desire and a strong instinct to pursue a life in coffee just as my Father and my Grandfather did.
Opportunity knocked on my door in 2011, when my step-mom, sold me what was once my father’s old coffee farm. Instinct did not let me abandon the opportunity; and so, my personal coffee journey started to take shape. Not knowing much, I just stumped all the coffee trees and vowed to return whenever they would sprout back. I had no clue as to what varieties of coffee existed on the property, how to take care of the trees, or what to do with everything once the cherries would arrive. Thankfully, my outstanding (AMAZING!) wife – Marielisa – was there, and even though she knew less than I, being the strong woman and hard worker that she is ( I did say she was AMAZING right?), we were well on our way. She had us enrolled in coffee school, urged me to get the old wet mill refurbished, and had us taking advantage of every learning opportunity possible. Currently, we are taking some barista courses to further our understanding.
Today, we can state that we are cultivating coffee in Guatemala’s New Oriente region. Pache, is our primary variety, a local mutation of Typica. We produce strictly hard beans at an altitude between 4700 to 5570 ft. Our spring fed wet mill only processes ripe handpicked and further sorted coffee cherries. No lie, Finca Peña Blanca produces an outstanding cup of a classical sweet Guatemalan. Some even reminisce when they try it, since classic traditional varieties are being phased out around the world.
Not an all bad description from someone who could not tell you the difference between what the words Arabica and Robusta meant just a few years back.
We have fallen in love with our coffee, our people, and our small place in the world. We know you will enjoy it as well. We are eager to share it with you.
Salvador and Marielisa
Comments ( 4 )
Very well written. I knew you two can do great things together God Bless you all Love you very much
Your story is heartfelt and real, And the journey that you and Marielisa have chosen to follow is one that your American and Guatemalan are proud of and one that follows the example set forth by Grandad who was always learning, studying and planning ways to improve. Love to you and the family.
Sal, I was in Dr Miller's Animal Science class with you and your brother. Enjoyed reading your story - amazing how events unfold in life. I graduated with my BS in Animal Science and for 15 years now I have operated my own business as an ISA Certified arborist! Anyways, thanks for sharing your story!