Al Lujan started growing coffee in 2010, after 30 years in retail grocery where he was a serial entrepreneur. Coming from a large Latino family (he is one of 15 children) with a history of cattle ranching in the United States, Al was raised in agriculture and business. His wife was born in Boquete also to a ranching family, and after years in retail together they decided that founding their own farm was the way to take part in the coffee business, which they loved, and their home community of Boquete, to which they are deeply devoted. And they themselves now head a large family of their own, with 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.
The Lujan family has two small estates as of this year: Vista Hermosa, at only 1.5 hectares, produces gesha, caturra, and catuai cultivars, along with avocados, and is where the Lujans live full time; Tierra de Dios, at 5 hectares, produces more gesha and catuai, as well as pacamara cultivars, avocados, and plantains. Tierra de Dios, being the larger parcel, also contains housing for the estates’ permanent employees. The family employs a supervisor at each farm and a full-time manager at Tierra de Dios. Currently at Tierra de Dios, the team just completed a storage facility for processed coffee, designated site to process cherry pulp into fertilizer for the farm, and are re-working their trails to have better access to their coffee plants.
Managing 6.5 hectares of farmland may appear simple compared to larger farms in the coffee world, but Al is adamant that the labor required to produce specialty coffee not be taken for granted, for farms of any size. In his own words: “I would like the coffee [producing] industry to receive the recognition that it properly deserves. In order to facilitate that process, I think that the industry has to educate the coffee consuming public as to the extensive work that is encompassed in the creation of the quality coffee that we produce. I would like to see an aggressive marketing program that spell out to the public exactly what goes on behind the scenes to produce a quality cup of coffee. Moreover, it is important that all levels of those involved in the coffee industry should be recognized.”