Arnoldo Isaac Martinez remembers his early exposure to the world of coffee, beginning when he was a young child, watching his mother and father’s dedication to their farm, which they worked along with their own parents (his grandparents)—so he feels it was impossible not to be fascinated and passionate about the trade. “I liked making the nurseries most of all because of the selection process; it’s really enjoyable selecting the best seeds, looking for the strongest roots.”
Arnoldo began farming his own coffee in 2013, on a parcel given to him by his parents. However, at first, following his parents process, he sold ripe cherry only and the production ended there. It was a few years later that he received an orientation with COMSA, his local growers’ association, and began to think radically differently about his role as a producer and steward of the land. Through COMSA Arnoldo began to learn organic agriculture and the benefits to farms and farmers alike of practicing earth-friendly land management.
Coffee at Finca Génesis is hand-picked, depulped and fermented the same day. Once fermentation is complete the parchment is moved to raised beds in the shade to dry. Based on this year’s washed process results, it’s clear Arnoldo knows what he’s doing: his coffee is perfectly balanced, bright and sweet with marzipan, chocolate, and orange flavors, and has the hallmark fresh crop aromatic complexity of snap pea and flowers.
Finca Génesis is in the community of San Miguelito, outside the municipality of Marcala, in Honduras’ La Paz department, very close to the border with El Salvador. This part of the country is extremely well respected for coffee, so much so that in 2005 the region received Honduras’ first Denominación de Origen (DO) for coffee which, similar to American Viticulture Areas (AVAs), certifies the region’s terroir and final products as being authentic, so as to protect it from adulteration or imitation. The DO designation applies to Honduras’ mountainous southwestern region and includes parts of Intibucá, La Paz, and Comayagua, although it is simply named “DO Marcala” after the town itself, considered the region’s capital of coffee heritage.
Arnoldo is an associate of Café Orgánico Marcala Sociedad Anónima, or COMSA, a large and well-respected growers association based in the town of Marcala. COMSA was founded in 2001 with the equivalent of $365 USD and 61 small coffee producers, 12 women and 49 men. Today the organization has more than 1,500 associate coffee farmers covering an area of 5,800 hectares, maintains multiple certifications, and is considered one of Honduras’ model business organizations.
From the beginning COMSA has promoted organic agricultural methods and quality of coffee as fundamental values for all participating producers. This was a reaction to what the founders saw as an over-reliance on agro-toxins which threatened the longevity of family farms (often a family’s sole asset) and the physical health of the people farming one of their country’s most gifted coffee terroirs. In 2012 the group acquired their own parcel of farmland and built “Finca Biodinámica La Fortaleza” (“Biodynamic Fortress”), a demonstration farm for testing sustainable techniques, as well as designing optimal farm inputs that can be created using common by-products of coffee farming—the results of which are shared throughout COMSA’s farmer network. In recent years COMSA has begun to focus more on what they call “La Finca Humana” (the human farm): an increased consciousness within the farmer that seeks to integrate their physical and social lives with the natural environment around them using observation, investigation, analysis, reflection, and activities that connect farmers with one another and the planet.