Farm: Lopez Portillo
Varietal: Caturra (50%), Typica (20%)& Garnica (30%)
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1750 meters above sea level
Owner: Pedro Perez Lopez
Town / City: Sibactel, Tenejapa
Lopez Portillo Organic - Mexico
Having begun coffee farming simply as a source of income for his family, Pedro is a true visionary when it comes to Mexican specialty coffee. For many in Mexico, coffee is seen as nothing more than a commodity. Pedro, however, views his hectares as a luxury good, similar to wine or tequila, focusing him to produce an excellent cup.
Originally inheriting the land from his father, Finca Lopez Portillo has been in Pedro’s family for generations. So much so, the farm’s name, Lopez, is simply named after the family that owns it. For many producers in the region, coffee is often grown along with other produce such as corn or tropical fruits. For Pedro however, it is solely coffee that populates the 2-hectare farm. Instead of producing a variety of crops, Pedro likes to focus his energy into producing the best coffee crop that he can. Pedro says that he enjoys the idea and reward of producing a luxury product, as well as the added benefit that it continues to keep the younger generation interested in farming.
As an organic producer, production at Finca Lopez Portillo is free from added pesticides or fertilisers, with old cherry pulp used to rejuvenate the soil. This does, however, leave coffee trees open to disease, with one of the main challenges at Finca Lopez Portillo being the maintenance of older trees. To combat this issue, new trees are planted regularly, with tree age varying only from 3 to 18 years and averaging at just seven years old. Regularly adding new trees also allow producers to cycle in new varieties such as Marsellesa; the variety is becoming increasingly popular in the region for its resistance to leaf rust.
Processing in the region begins initially with coffee cherry being selectively handpicked, before being bagged and brought to the farms own wet mill. Typically, three passes are carried out during the harvest, with one final round used to collect dried cherries and green cherries to create ‘Cerezo’ (sold to Coyotes for national consumption).
At the farm's wet mill, the coffee cherry is first pulped of its cherry, before being cleaned with fresh water from the nearby mountains and placed into tanks to ferment. Here, the beans will remain for around 24 hours, depending on the climate. Once complete, the coffee is placed into the farms ‘Guardiola’ (mechanical dryer) and slowly dried, maintaining control to keep the flavour of the bean. Finally, the dried coffee is milled at the farm, before being taken to our export partners, Caricafe & AMSA, to be graded.
Caricafe is known for its strict measures in grading bean quality. Firstly, bean size and density are measured, before each lot is cupped. All coffees that score above 84pts on the SCA scale, such as the case for this lot, are separated from the rest of the regional lot to be sold under their own name. As well as assessing on delivery, Caricafe & AMSA’s field team (SMS) visit farms during the harvest season, helping them to select and pick cherry at their ripest point, improving the quality for the overall group.
Finca Lopez Portillo’s engagement with C.A.F.E. Practices helps to guarantee fair treatment of the land, helping renovate trees, as well as banning child labour and improving social standing for workers. However, some of the biggest challenges faced in the region as well as at Finca Lopez Portillo, come in the form of climate change and labour shortages. This year in particular (2020), unexpected rains and labour shortages caused by tightening border controls from Guatemala, meant that Pedro was only able to conduct two passes during picking. However, due to the hard work of Pedro and his family and the SMS team, Finca Lopez Portillo was still able to produce a fantastic crop.