THE STORY BEHIND PLATANARES
Named for the plantain trees that provide shade for the coffee plants, Platanares is a coffee we’ve been buying since 2011. The farm is owned and cared for by Jose Francisco Villeda Torres—known by all as “Pancho”—a gregarious individual and one of the founding members of Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada (COCAFCAL) which is one of the most impressively organized co-ops in Central America.
Founded in 1999 by a coffee farmer who was interested in creating a network of producers in Western Honduras who could share information and resources, COCAFCAL has established a lasting model for growth through education, infrastructural support, access to buyers, and innovative sustainability initiatives such as ecotourism (with a zip line!), beekeeping, aquaculture, lemongrass and greenhouse projects. Capucas vividly illustrates the ultimate goal of cooperatives which is to collectively strengthen a group of individual farmers so that they can eventually leave the co-op and thrive independently. Along with Los Lirios, another Irving Farm favorite, Platanares is a great example of a small farm in this region that has successfully followed that trajectory.
After years of producing coffee that was blended with the larger Capucas co-op offering, Pancho entered one bag of specialty coffee into the 2011 COCAFCAL competition—a platform for farmers to showcase their specialty lots for international buyers—and he wound up winning first place, capturing the attention and taste buds of Irving Farm’s Green Coffee Buyer, Dan Streetman. Since then, Dan has been a devoted supporter of Pancho and his family. After the height of the dreaded roya (coffee leaf rust) outbreak in 2012, Pancho’s coffee didn’t score quite as high as in years past, but Dan still committed to paying a premium so that Pancho could fight the rust and save his farm. Today, the farm is thriving and the quality of the coffee has exceeded that of the winning lot from 2011. Pancho has gone from producing one bag of specialty coffee to 35 bags per year (1 bag = roughly 150 lbs of green coffee) with no signs of slowing down.
He depulps the coffee without water and lets it dry-ferment for 18–36 hours, depending on the weather (colder weather requires longer fermentation times). He uses a minimal amount of water in his washing channels to remove the mucilage and then dries the coffee on raised beds inside a secadora (covered solar dryer) beside his house. He also built a new room for storing dried coffee, which Dan was very excited to see filled with freshly dried and sorted beans that had Irving Farm’s name on it.
We invite you to try this delicious coffee with its silky body, floral sweetness and mild citric acidity. It’s a prime example of how the joy and depth of a relationship between a producer and a buyer can come through in the cup, improving year after year and communicating a genuine sweetness that can only be developed over time.