Specialty Coffee from Guatemala - Farm Direct | De las Minas

BlogA coffee producer's journeyIn the beginning… my father's land

In the beginning… my father's land

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s my father, Salvador Melgar, an entrepreneur at heart, was in search for a business opportunity. He heard of a piece of property that was for sale that contained an old growth forest. During this time in Guatemala’s history, logging these kinds of forests was an acceptable activity. When my father saw the potential that was before him, he acted quickly to acquire the forest he was being offered. Purchasing this property took him on a long adventure. He was set on harvesting the wood for hardwood flooring and fine carpentry. Being honest, my mother, Cheryl, fell in love with the forest and even though she was from Mississippi where logging is an everyday thing, she had never seen magnificent trees like these. So, you can imagine she was not too thrilled at the idea of cutting them down.

During this time, environmental conscientiousness was taking hold, and there was a movement to protect this special mountain range, Sierra de Las Minas. New laws made it complicated to harvest trees from this area, and basically my father lost what he thought was his initial investment. Sometimes, God will close doors unexpectedly for our own benefit. But, when you are frustrated It just takes a little time to figure this out. Obviously, my father was disappointed.

What was a bit unfair for my father, I must admit, was the fact that the forest was deemed protected by the Government, but conservation payments or subsidies were NOT given in exchange for revoking private property rights away, and for the cancelation of large volume timber licenses.

Nonetheless, this setback did not stop my father from constantly visiting the forest and creating lasting relationships with the communities of the area.


Instead of leaving, my father continued to invest in the area.


The very same forest he was trying to remove, was creating a unique micro climate where, on cleared land beneath the tree line, vegetables and coffee were thriving.

And this was the unforeseen treasure.


An unforseen treasure


Once my father realized this, he purchased cleared land beneath the tree line and started growing potatoes. After a few seasons of potatoes, he moved on to grow coffee.

In the early 80s coffee was just another drink to most people, like water, milk, and orange juice. Coffee was either good or bad, for the most part. But, my father DID like to drink good coffee, and he noticed that coffee in this special micro climate was excellent to his taste (he was already a coffee connoisseur.)

My parent’s marriage did not work out and my mother moved back to Mississippi. Years later my father remarried to Anneliese. Three years after he remarried he succumbed to cancer and passed in 1993. I was only 16. In my father’s will he gave his coffee farm to my stepmother, and he left his forest to us kids.

The forest to this day must be the greatest treasure of all. Completely irreplaceable! The trees are gorgeous, not to mention rare! The bird watching is amazing; it is home to the Resplendent Quetzal!

The water springs are beautiful and pristine, and the wildlife in general is making a comeback as time goes on.

The forest has always been my anchor to this area! So much so, that when Anneliese decided to sell her farm, she thought it would be great if I kept it. Naturally, I was eager to acquire my father’s coffee farm. But, there was one little problem – How do you Grow Coffee?

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