The plot of land was initially planted with coffee in the 19th century by the Minondo family. The farm then passed through four generations before being purchased by the Zelaya family. Today, Puerta Verde is overseen by Roberto Zelaya, one of Guatemala’s most renowned coffee producers, the farm’s daily management falls to Marcos Rompiche, the Administrator, and Israel Yool, the farm’s Production Manager. Marcos is the 3rd generation of his family to work the farm and has, himself, worked there for 22 years. Israel is the 2nd generation of his family and has 16 years working on the farm under his belt. Together with Ricardo, they know every inch of the farm’s terrain and are keenly aware of minute differences in climate and soil composition between plots. This intimate knowledge of the farm’s terrain and plants is married with a commitment to quality and environmental preservation that is central to their coffee producing ethos. However, it is Zelaya’s forward-thinking and innovative approach to farming that helps the farm yield some of the region’s most interesting coffees.
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.