Pedro Melgar Calix started cultivating coffee with one acre of land in 1985 and over the last 30 years he has been able to purchase 17 acres of land. But Pedro has had his setbacks. In 2013, he saw his production drop from 4000 pounds of cherries down to less than 500 pounds because of the severe outbreak of leaf rust that swept across Central America. He has spent the last five years renovating 7 acres of his farm called La Cascada (the waterfall) and his production has returned to 4000 pounds of cherries. Pedro has moved beyond recovery to innovation. He has reconfigured his micro-mill to ecologically run with very little water by using a demucilager, which controls the amount of mucilage that remains on the coffee bean after depulping without fermenting or washing the coffee. He has perfected the yellow honey process, in which the demucilager mechanically strips most of the mucilage from the bean. The coffee is then placed directly on raised beds to dry with a light layer of mucilage still attached to the bean. This process has enabled Pedro to market his coffee as a micro-lot through Cooperativa Regional de Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra (RAOS), the cooperative where he is a member and active participant on the board of directors.
RAOS mills and exports Pedro’s coffee. RAOS was founded in 1997 and was the first cooperative of small and medium organic coffee producers in Honduras. In the last few years, RAOS has invested significantly to improve its dry mill installation. The facility has 2 electronic eyes running in series to color sort green coffee before export. RAOS also continues to employ women to hand sort micro-lots as the final step in preparing a coffee for export.