Finca Santa Clara
Finca Santa Clara is located on the fertile southern slopes of the Volcán de Agua in the Antigua Valley at 1,600-1,830 metres. Ricardo Zelaya has managed the farm, which was bought in 1974 by his grandfather, since 1989 and is the 4th generation of the Zelaya family to have produced coffee at Santa Clara. Since taking over the farm, he has increased the size from 17 hectares of coffee plantations to 110 hectares as well as building a wet mill, drying patios and a greenhouse to improve the processing of the coffee. After studying at Zamorano and the University of Florida in agribusiness, he was well-prepared to take over the family business and it shows in his dedication and passion for high quality coffee.
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.