In the far western region of Honduras, outside the small city of La Labor, sits Finca La Guadalupe. For Selin Recino Jr., Finca La Guadalupe is home to his second-generation small-plot family coffee farm. For Andros Miti, Honduran coffee importer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Finca La Guadalupe has become a home away from home. For us at Tiny Footprint Coffee, Finca La Guadalupe represents the best in coffee sustainability, quality, and passion that we seek when building relationships with small-plot farmers like Selin. For you, our customers, Finca La Guadalupe is the starting point of a long journey that ends with a brewed cup of nuanced, sweet, fruit-forward coffee with notes of orange, caramel and spice.
Over 40 years ago, Selin Recinos Sr. and Petrona Perez started Finca La Guadalupe as a small-plot coffee farm, hoping it would help their family prosper. With a keen eye on sustainability, slowly but surely, through two generations of hard work and dedication, the small plot they started has grown. It is now part of a legacy that spans four families, including that of Selin Recinos Jr., all descendents of Selin Sr. & his wife, Petrona.
After Selin Sr.’s passing, Selin Jr. took over the family farm in its entirety, and now looks after his sister’s land as well as his own. Selin Jr. carries on his father’s mission to grow high-quality coffee with family at the forefront. His wife, Blanca, focuses on refining the finished product through coffee cupping, and works with Selin Jr. to continue the legacy of quality and sustainability started in La Labor so long ago.
In addition to growing a quality product, Selin Jr. demonstrates a strong commitment to growing coffee in more sustainable ways, building on the bedrock laid by his father. Selin Jr. tries to minimize water use, protect the wildlife on his farms and continues to plant trees for shade cover. In 2017 alone, Selin Jr. planted 5,000 trees that will provide shade for future coffee growing areas. The result of the shared family vision and hard work is a sustainable farm and coffee of exceptional quality. In 2003 Selin Jr. participated in the first coffee competition, a precursor to the Cup of Excellence, and took 4th place. This year, he entered his coffee in COCAFELOL’s annual competition that takes the best coffee from the Ocotepeque region in Honduras and he finished in 2nd place.
It wasn’t until just a few years ago, however, that this continued dedication and quality brought a new level of impact to the lives of Selin Jr. and his family. This was when a new trading partner, Andros Miti, became a part of this coffee’s story on the farm.
Originally from Honduras and the co-founder of Cima Coffees, Andros is committed to working directly with coffee farmers who are committed to representing Honduras with quality coffee. Andros has two partners in Cima. Yair Keidar runs the European side of sales, and Domingo Rosales runs cupping and grading at origin. A very small but effective group for being less than five years old, Cima Coffee’s commitment is centered on increasing the quality of each bean on each farm, year after year, and serving to bolster the economic and social empowerment of farmers like Selin Jr. Cima Coffee is more proof that small-scale passion brings about large-scale impact, both in terms of the farmers involved and the quality of beans that make it to our cups.
According to Andros, at the beginning of the Cima venture, he spent months in Honduras learning the quirks of the local coffee production supply chain - from small to large-scale operations. It became clear to Andros that farmers like Selin Jr. were not being properly compensated for their coffee and their coffee was not being properly represented on the global market.
Small-plot independent farmers like Selin Jr. make up the bulk of the Honduran coffee farming population, and weren’t receiving their fair shake when it came to trading. Oftentimes, they experience economic or social pressures to sell to larger coffee distributors, who then sell the coffee for less than it was worth, usually in a blend. In Andro’s words, “A lot of the value is being transferred away from [the farmer], who actually has a relationship with the plant.” Similarly, Andros noted the many intermediaries between the farmer and exporter. “There are a lot of intermediaries along the way that take really good beans from a farmer who really loves what he’s doing, pay him nothing for it, and then just mix it in with [other lower quality] coffee.”
To fix these issues, Andros and Cima Coffee took it upon themselves to establish personal relationships with farmers, working directly with people like Selin Jr. and Finca La Guadalupe. According to Andros, “There was a real opportunity there to be able to provide for these people that are doing a good job and want to and enjoy taking care of the land and taking care of the coffee. Their passion is in building a relationship with the coffee plant. They are willing to go out and learn and want to do things right. And in a lot of cases, they’ve been doing them right for a long time, but never really seen any benefit from it, monetarily or otherwise - they just do it because that’s who they are.”
In terms of farmers with personal passions and dedications to their coffee, the connection between Selin Jr. and Andros has been strong and powerful from the jump. Three years on now, Selin Jr. was one of the first farmers that Andros worked with and the results of this personal dedication and connection have paid off.
According to Andros, “the first time we bought his coffee I think it was 60 bags, and that was pretty big … it represented a huge shift in income on that coffee.” In terms of the impact on Selin Jr. and his family? “It’s been wild. Not just wild to see what we’ve done with coffee, but also to see the impact at his farm, in his home - it’s amazing. To see small physical improvements. Last year when I was there, the difference was tangible at that point. You could see changes that were physical. It’s things like refurbishing their kitchen. And he just sent his daughter to college, so now she’s living in a different city and he’s able to pay for school. Obviously it’s a fraction of what that costs here - but she’s the first one in his family to be able to do that. It’s definitely things like the amount of money that he’s able to receive now because of the way that we do business, even though it’s the same coffee that he’s been growing for years, that enable those changes.”
These changes haven’t just benefited Selin Jr. and his family. With the growth of the relationship between Selin and Andros, together they are investing back into the coffee industry in La Labor.
Selin Jr., with Andros’ assistance, is applying their family’s coffee vision to the broader local coffee community by building additional resources that allow other small-plot farmers like Selin Jr. to maintain more control of their coffee and command higher prices. Most small-plot producers, for example, don’t have access to proper wet milling facilities. Instead of milling the coffee themselves, they sell their coffee cherry to an intermediary who, in turn, mills and dries the coffee and sells it to an exporter, often mixed with other lower quality coffee. Selin Jr. is building a wet milling facility near La Labor for local producers to use on their own, thus maintaining more control over their coffee production and price.
What started as a small-plot single family farm, Finca La Guadalupe now embodies the spirit of specialty coffee that we seek to associate with at Tiny Footprint Coffee. With sustainability, shared-prosperity and quality at its core, we are excited to be working with Selin Jr. and Andros to bring Finca La Guadalupe to our customers, who can buy and drink this coffee knowing their money is directly strengthening the coffee supply chain from Honduras to Minneapolis to your cup.