Wonder what the average day for a coffee farmer in Honduras is? Our partner Andrea Rubí, who grew up on her family’s Fincas Ruland farms and now manages their specialty farm, Finca Ruland 2, transports us to the farm to share a day with us.
When a new coffee harvest begins at Fincas Ruland, our obligations start very early morning, since the coffee pickers begin to arrive at the farms at 6:00 am. My day begins with a good cup of coffee because the harvest in Honduras takes much of our winter; they are very cold mornings. The good thing about living on the farm is that I’m never late for work! My mother, together with my sisters, will have already distributed the work of the day, and each one knows the area to cover. Usually I take care of the coffees on Finca Ruland 2, our specialty farm.
At this hour there is a group of coffee pickers ready to be taken to Finca Ruland 2. It takes us 30 minutes to get to Finca Ruland 2, and the weather changes completely on the way up, since we go from being 950 meters above sea level where we meet at Finca Ruland 1 to 1400 meters above sea level on Finca Ruland 2. Once we arrive, the coffee pickers get ready with their baskets to start their day and head to the area where the coffee of the day will be hand picked. We are always reminding them of the importance of picking the ripe fruit, and being careful with coffee plants. At this time of the morning, the mountain of Santa Barbara is still covered in mist, you can still hear the singing of the birds, and a cold breeze that runs across our faces.
Usually after making sure that everything and everyone is settled, I return to Finca Ruland 1 for breakfast and then continue with the work of the day. Finca Ruland 1 is the oldest farm where we have built all the infrastructure to process our coffee, after having my breakfast there is a full staff on our de-pulping machines, washing coffee, and managing coffee being dried on raised beds.
9:00 am – Midday
During this time of the day, you will always find me in these areas above supervising the process of coffee, and once de-pulped, in the areas of fermentation, washing tanks, and drying. There is always a lot to do. It’s at this stage where mistakes can be made and spoil the coffee harvested from the previous day, or it is where we can grow those magical flavors behind our coffees. We try to give leadership and decision-making input to our workers to examine the criteria they have when a situation arises. This is also how they learn from coffee and not only come and do the work, but because they know the importance to manage times, temperatures, and separate coffees by picked dates and varieties.
It’s our lunch break and I go home to eat something. There’s not always time to sit down and grab a meal—there are days when a large volume of coffee is handled since there are two farms producing at the same time, so when we’re caught up in so much work, one of us prepares food at home and takes it to wherever we are, or we enter the house for something quick and get back out.
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Although I am in charge of Finca Ruland 2 and the coffee process. I am always available to help my mother and my sisters with what comes from Finca Ruland 1. My mother has always liked to walk along the trails of the farm, closely supervising the coffee plantation that’s being hand-picked and always motivating the pickers. It is worth mentioning that our house is built in the middle of Finca Ruland 1, therefore we are surrounded by coffee! Living on the farm makes us more committed to people, because we look closely at their needs and daily concerns, It makes us see the reality that hits us as a country, and allows us to keep on top of everything. We become an octopus, as in full hands on, as my mother says: we are everywhere.
I prepare to return to Finca Ruland 2. My mother and my sisters are getting ready because at this time there are usually coffee pickers ready to measure how much coffee they’ve picked during the day in Finca Ruland 1 and we are in charge of receiving the coffee picked daily.
Sometimes one of my sisters or a trusted collaborator comes with me to Finca Ruland 2. When I arrive, the coffee plantation is still being picked, which gives me time to take pictures of them or the farm, I supervise what they have done during the day, I talk with the supervisor of the farm, and we square up jobs or ideas for the next day.
The pickers start to bring the coffee they’ve picked throughout the day for it to be measured. With their help, we measure and load the truck. Once we’re ready, we head back to Finca Ruland 1, where we unload the coffee and it is put in the hoppers of the de-pulping machine to leave this coffee in the fermentation tanks to work on next day.
At this time, since Finca Ruland 1 grows conventional coffee, therefore has more coffee volume, there are still pickers who take advantage of the last remaining rays of sunlight to continue picking, and we have to wait for them to receive the coffee. This coffee is taken to a coffee de-pulper in a village 15 minutes from the house, as our own wet mill is usually busy processing the specialty coffee from Finca Ruland 2. While some collaborators are waiting for the Finca Ruland 2 coffee to be ejected, others are loading the trucks with the Finca Ruland 1 coffee for it to be taken to pulp out.
We don’t have a specific clock-out time since there are days that we have finished at 8:00 pm, and there are some other days that it’s 10:00 pm and we are still at the wet mills. Usually work ends for us when the work area is clean and ready for the next day. The world of coffee can be very exhausting during the harvest—not only physically but also mentally. It takes long and heavy work days, which are made up for by the great work team that Fincas Ruland have which one way or another motivates us and helps us with our duties and underscore our commitment to offering excellent coffees for our customers.