Behind every bean that drops down the throat of your grinder there is a small-lot coffee farmer. Don Wilfredo Haslan is one such coffee farmer and our house espresso blend is named after him, our earliest (and enduring) inspiration to be committed to the fair trade movement.
Wilfredo’s tiny five-hectare coffee farm is situated in the lush Nicaraguan jungle, two hours drive on a dirt track from Matagalpa, the closest city. Life on this coffee farm is humble. There is no modern technology save a battery-powered radio. Wilfredo’s house is wooden, raised a few feet off the ground to escape heavy rain, and hosts two rooms and an open-fire kitchen. There is no glass in the windows, and the family showers in a lean-to shack with a bucket of water and a cup.
Three generations live in the house and the majority of their daily lives is centered around providing food for the family. Wilfredo’s daughter wakes at 4am to hand-grind maize soaked in water to form a basic tortilla. These are cooked on an iron plate and served with red beans and sometimes a fresh cow’s feta to form the basis of most meals. Meat is an expensive rarity.
A day’s work is notably physical. From the milking of the cow, to repairs around the farm, harvesting maize and picking the dry maize off cobs for storing – all aspects of the day involve time-consuming labour.
And this is all before the busyness of the coffee harvesting season kicks in. In Wilfredo’s work, as with that of many coffee farmers we have met since starting Peoples Coffee, there is an immense pride in the coffee they produce. They are small-scale, artisan producers. Acutely aware of their environments, the weather patterns, and how to get the best out of a very small amount of land, farmers like Don Wilfredo continue to provide a striking and confronting model of what it could be like to live with a very modest environmental footprint.