This micro-lot was produced by Maria Elena Vásquez on her 2-acre farm called El Manzano in the municipality of Santa Elena. Maria Elena is part of a select group of producers who work with Catracha Coffee Company, which organizes monthly educational seminars that provide guidance for farm management, harvesting and coffee processing that is focused on quality. Traditionally, farmers in Santa Elena have sold their coffee in cherry to a middleman, eliminating the possibility of earning better prices based on the quality of the coffee. Over the last few years, Maria Elena has improved her farm management practices using lime to control the pH of the soil, fertilizing with organic compost, and spraying organic fungicides to control levels of leaf rust. These actions have improved the health of her farm and the quality of her coffee production. Maria Elena processes her coffee using her own micro-mill to depulp, ferment, wash and dry her coffee before delivering it to Catracha Coffee. With profits from the sale of her own micro-lot, Maria Elena has created a small business selling groceries in her community, remodeled her kitchen, built a second fermentation tank, and added a solar dryer. These investments have helped Maria Elena and her 19 year-old son, Adelso Danilo, produce another excellent micro-lot for 2020.
Mayra Orellana-Powell founded Catracha Coffee Company to connect her Coffee growing community with roasters. Ten years later, Catracha Coffee has gained momentum with more than 80 producers and 20 roasters working together on sustainable relationships and a profit sharing model, which has consistently paid at least $2.00 per pound directly to producers. This extra income helps increase each producer’s capacity to reinvest in their farm, and overtime, increase their standard of living.
The sale of Catracha Coffee also creates income for a non-profit called Catracha Community (a 501(1)(c)(3) nonprofit), which invests in income diversification opportunities without taking resources from a farmer’s bottomline. Catracha Community hosts weekly workshops for women and youth to learn craft making skills. Like the coffee, the focus is on quality. With the help of talented volunteers, the group has been able to make many beautiful things and sell them through our network of coffee friends. They even have a name for the group, Catracha Colectivo. Catracha Community has also established an art residence and studio in Santa Elena to host artists from Honduras and around the world. These artists have been running art classes two days a week for over a year. Every week more than 30 children come and learn art. Art is starting to pop up everywhere around Santa Elena. There are more than 30 murals along the streets of Santa Elena, in peoples homes, and at many schools. During the COVID 19 pandemic, group activities have been suspended but women continue to make crafts and also masks to earn extra income. Artists have been visiting homes to paint small works of art on windows and doors. They have also been painting stools and selling them for extra income. Many families are also starting family gardens and trading seed to diversify their harvest.