It is early morning, the cold breeze brings odors of nature and the singing and noise of the Bushy Crested Jays and White-bellied Chachalacas while the birds hide in the tree tops. A Quail zooms past the left side of the trail, startling you. It is amazing the view of the volcanoes that loom in the distance from the farm where you are moving. As you move deeper into the plantation, you follow the long line of people dressed in curious costumes, bright reds and delicate embroidery appears on the “Güipiles” and belts of the people that quietly stroll along as they carry their rustic farming tools…
machetes dangle from the waist of men as they carry heavy hoes in their shoulders. Women carry smaller hoes and sacs in their hands. The trail where you and the farm workers walk is lined by rows of luscious green coffee bushes. About four years ago, the area you are walking was first planted with baby plants that where carefully raised in a nursery for over a year. Now, you are going to clean the weeds for the last time in the year before harvesting occurs. You feel proud of what you see as this is the culmination of five years of efforts and hard work…
Coffee farming is a slow, careful series of activities that must be done throughout the year. Plants need to be fertilized, protected from weeds, pest and diseases must be controlled and the shadow trees must be cleared yearly to assure that just the right amount of light gets to the plants. You feel pride on your farm as it is both the result of long hard tolls and financial risks as well as a confirmation that you are good heir to the Mayan heritage.
The topography and planting density of the coffee farm, combined with the 2.5 meters height of the coffee plants prevent mechanization to be used in the farms. Culturally, most old farmers sneer at the idea of mechanizing the coffee farms as you get to see each plant before you decide to prune, fertilize or do any number of activities needed to maintain the plants healthy, well fed and ready to yield a good harvest.
There is tradition and culture in what you do, you feel connected to the ancient nature and part of a long family tradition on coffee production. You remember the lessons taught to you by your father, who learned from his father… You hope that all your efforts and risks will materialize in the form of superb coffees, to be offered to demanding customers and who, upon trying it, will be surprised and satisfied.
Without knowing it, you are starting the path that ends with your coffee being served at coffeeshop company coffee shops.