Father: Edilfonso Yara, 39 years old. Like most farmers, his father was a farmer before him and his father before him. So all his life he has seen coffee seasons come and go. We all tend to romanticize our childhoods – how long the summers were, how much snow we got in winter etc., etc. – and when Edilfonso thinks about his childhood, especially in regards to coffee farming, he remembers it as being a lot less work. Of course his dad and uncles spent a lot of time in the fields and they never had an abundance of wealth, but the coffee grew easily in the fertile ground and the seasons were stabile. They always had healthy trees that didn’t require much maintenance and the weather would almost always support a high yield of cherries.
Now, everything thing is different. They have had to adapt to the market and changing weather by focussing more on quality than quantity.
The last few years have been especially hard. They have been dealing with leaf rust, mudslides, draught and torrential rain, which has made it extremely hard to have a consistent production of high-grade coffee. However, he and Maribel have a very positive outlook on their future business and try to just focus on doing the best with what they’ve got.
On the farm, Edilfonso is the one who takes care of the maintenance of the coffee trees – everything from fertilization, pruning and processing to selling and taking care of the books. He also takes care of their private finances. He does however say this with a bit of a smile, because he recognizes that the farm is very much a joint venture between himself and his wife and though they roughly have the different tasks divided, they both take part in all aspects of the business.
Mother: Maribel Martinez de Yara, 35 years old. Wakes up at 4 AM each morning to prepare both breakfast and lunch. She then gets the girls ready for school and at 8 AM they eat breakfast. After that she cleans and head out to the fields and starts picking cherries. When the girls come home from school she helps them with their homework and cooks dinner. Furthermore, she runs her own business selling eggs and off-grade coffee at the market once a week to provide extra income. She prefers working outside with coffee rather than working in the house and as you can tell she likes to stay busy.
The little family farm is known in the region for their beautifully dried parchment and that’s really a testament to the care and effort the young couple puts in to their product.
Maribel is also active in tasting and cupping. She can always pick out their coffees on the cupping table and says that she can taste whether she has sorted the lot or if someone else has done it.
The eldest: Anna Maria Yara Martinez, 15 years old. She’s about to finish high school and wants to study English – either at the university or at classes in town, depending on what the family can afford. She helps at the farm by picking cherries and, like her mother; she prefers that from working in the house – Her mother says, that she’s allergic to cooking.
The middle one: Carolina Yara Martinez, 12 years old. Attends school in Gigante and is in the 6th grade. Her favourite subject is art, which is an interest she got from her mother. She helps around the house by cleaning, cooking and doing the dishes. She also assists her mother with the chicken business.
The youngest: Laura Vanessa Yara Martinez, 7 years old. Goes to primary school in the small village Los Olivos. She’s in the 2nd grade and loves sports – particularly everything to do with jumping. Even though she’s young, she helps her mother picking cherries, but they make sure that there is also room to play.
Producing quality coffee is a demanding job, but you get to spend a lot of time with your family. Both Edilfonso and Maribel Yara have been involved with coffee all their life, but they don’t expect their daughters to follow their path. They say: “What they have learned is that the most important thing about the life you choose, is that you spend your time doing something you love”.
The Coffee Collective
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