Finca Guadelupe Zaju
Guadalupe Zaju was taken over in 1945 by Hamburg-born businessman Hans Asmus Luethje and his wife. Their son Juan Luethje carried on the legacy. The farm was originally known simply as Zajú – named after the river that runs through it: Guadalupe was added only when the Virgin of Guadalupe icon was introduced to the farm’s chapel. The Luethje family ran the farm for more than 50 years with dedication; however, in the latter part of that century, low coffee prices challenged the farm’s economic viability. The farm was sold when coffee prices hit rock bottom in 2003.
When Guadalupe Zaju’s current owner, Eduardo ‘Teddy’ Esteve, purchased the farm in 2004, it was a true act of faith and commitment to making the formerly great farm into a bastion of quality again. Teddy’s family had been involved in commodity trading – including coffee, tea and cocoa – for over 150 years, and he had worked on the coffee end of the business for his whole life. In his own words, he says “I grew up cleaning up the cupping room in the office and being involved in clerical matters since my early days to complement my allowance.” He directly started working for the family company in 1983. However, he had never directly been involved in farming coffee.
Coffee first arrived in Mexico in the late 1700s, introduced by Spanish settlers. These days the country produces a significant amount of coffee, though its place as a producer of coffee on a global scale has been significantly diminished due to the entry of untraditional Arabica producers on the scene and, in particular, due to crop losses due to coffee leaf rust. Although the country is one of the foremost exporters of certified coffee (both organic and fair trade), the specialty market for quality is yet to make significant inroads here. This is not because Mexico lacks potential for producing quality lots: the country boasts a huge number of growing regions with agreeable altitudes and climates, as well as hundreds of thousands of experienced, well-established small-scale farmers. With more than 600 thousand hectares in 12 states under primarily Arabica coffee production, Mexico has great untapped potential for the production of specialty lots.