Finca El Hato
Verena de Rasch owns El Hato and has utilized her love for trees and exotic plants to surround the coffee trees with a native jungle of plants. The farm was first established in 1938, when its original owner, Enrique Topke, began spreading coffee in this region, in addition to raising cattle in his open fields. Enrique’s family still work on the farm and experienced the devastation of Coffee Leaf Rust in 2018, when roughly 60% of the farm’s crop was lost to the disease.
Coffee has helped fuel Guatemala’s economy for over a hundred years. Today, an estimated 125,000 coffee producers drive Guatemala’s coffee industry and coffee remains one of Guatemala’s principal export products, accounting for 40% of all agricultural export revenue.
It is most likely that Jesuit missionaries introduced coffee to Guatemala, and there are accounts of coffee being grown in the country as early as mid-18th century. Nonetheless, as in neighbouring El Salvador, coffee only became an important export crop for the country at the advent of synthetic dyes and industrialisation of textiles – in the mid-19th century. Throughout the latter half of the 1800s, various government programs sought to promote coffee as a means to stimulate the economy, including a massive land privatisation program initiated by President Justo Rufino Barrias in 1871, which resulted in the creation of large coffee estates, many of which still produce some of Guatemala’s best coffees today.