Mexico – Nueva Esperanza Organic
Located roughly four hours from Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Finca Nueva Esperanza, translating as ‘New Hope’, was first purchased in 1960 by Ricardo Baumann Brenner and his wife Celia Moreno. After Ricardo’s death in 1973, Celia continued managing the farm, involving herself in everything from planting seedlings, setting up a nursery, cultivation and harvesting; all in the pursuit of high-quality coffee.
To this day, the farm is still owned by the Moreno family. Inherited by Alan Moreno in 2010, the farms reputation gained particular traction when in 2015, Finca Nueva Esperanza were selected by Starbucks Reserve to be their first full Mexican micro lot. Since then, Nueva Esperanza has been noted for its excellence and as an example of ‘best practices’ for specialty coffee in Mexico.
As an organic producer, production at Finca Nueva Esperanza is free from added pesticides or fertilisers, with old cherry pulp used to rejuvenate the soil. This does, however, leave coffee trees open to disease, with one of the main challenges at Finca Nueva Esperanza being the maintenance of older trees. To combat this issue, 25% of Finca Nueva Esperanza is renovated every year, making sure the remaining 75% is working at full productivity. Regularly adding new trees also allows the producers to cycle in new varieties such as Marsellesa: the variety is becoming increasingly popular in the region for its resistance to leaf rust.
Processing in the region begins initially with coffee cherry being selectively handpicked, before being bagged and brought to the farms own wet mill. Finca Nueva Esperanza employees 60 members of staff to help pick in the harvest season, typically carrying out five passes to only pick the ripest of cherry. One final round is then often carried out to collect dried cherries and green cherries to create ‘Cerezo’ (sold to Coyotes for national consumption).
At the farm’s wet mill, the coffee cherry is first sorted by hand and separated by quality, before being pulped of its cherry. Next, the beans are cleaned with cool clean water from the nearby river, before being placed into tanks to ferment. Here, the beans will remain for around 24 hours, depending on the weather. Once complete, the coffee is taken to the farm’s patios and slowly dried, maintaining control to keep the flavour of the bean. Here, the beans will remain for several days, until moisture levels reduce below 12%. Finally, the dried coffee is milled at and bagged, ready for export.
Some of the biggest challenges faced in the region as well as at Finca Nueva Esperanza, come in the form of climate change and labour shortages. This year in particular (2020), an early harvest and labour shortages caused by tightening border controls from Guatemala created difficulty for Alan and his team. However, due to their hard work, Finca Nueva Esperanza was still able to produce a fantastic crop.