Walter Ramirez is one of the younger of Antonio Ramirez’ four sons - the patriarch of the Los Ramirez group. Like with all of Antonio’s sons, Walter’s production began thanks to his father who gave him a portion of his own farm, Las Lajas, when Walter was just eighteen years old. The plot was so small when he took it over, his first production wasn’t more that 200lbs of parchment coffee.
Like the rest of his family and the entirety of the 800 coffee producers who grow in Selguapa, he sold his coffee for low prices in cherry for his entire life. Nowadays, intermediaries from large cooperatives wind their way up the skinny roads into the Comayagua mountain range to buy from producer’s here, likely knowing full well the value of this coffee. Not long ago, however, selling coffee in cherry meant piling the dripping fruit on to mules and embarking the day long trip of walking the fresh coffee seeds down to the city of Comayagua to be sold.
As Walter explained, and indeed his whole family resonates this message, selling coffee like this was very defeating for he and his family. With all the hard work and investment they placed into the coffee, they would see it purchased for something in the range of $0.40USD/lb in cherry. It simply didn’t make sense, but even despite this, Walter managed to save money to grow his land, dedicated to increase his production in search of a better income for his family. Unlike some coffee growing communities in Honduras and Central America, coffee growing is the main source of income for the Los Ramirez members.
Walter is thankful to Escape for purchasing his coffee, and wants to send the message that he will work every year to improve the quality of his coffee for those interested to purchase it.
Writing a New Story
In 2018, a member of the community named Jesus “Chungo” Galeas was working for the Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) and through this work, was able to connect with a Rony Gamez, a former IHCAFE field technician and Q grader who has served as a judge in multiple Cup of Excellence competitions around the world and has now shifted his business to serve as a conduit for specialty buyers to remote coffee growing communities that have traditionally been overlooked in Honduras.
Once connected to Selguapa, Rony and Jesus began the process of training the members on producing micro-lots for sale to the specialty market. This included everything from cherry collection to fermentation and drying, and continues in the form of biannual reunions with the Cafe Raga team, relying on feedback from buyers like Semilla to inform how coffees were received by roaster partners and end consumers.
This year, through discussions of last year’s crop results, the group put an increased focus on improved fermentation and cooler, slower drying times in order to achieve more depth and vibrancy, as well as producing incredibly clean and sweet coffees. The results were an increased cup quality across all the lots we tried from this community, and in Semilla’s opinion, some of the best coffees Honduras has to offer.
As part of our visit this year, the group was gifted a moisture reader and shown how to use it such that all of the group is now able to check the moisture content of their coffees to ensure they’re in the range of 10 - 10.5% before being pulled from the drying beds. Honduras’ Migration Crisis As multiple members of the community can attest to, prior to selling to the specialty market, the national prices served to be completely demotivating to the community, and this low price point is cited as a direct reason for their involvement in the widespread pattern of migration that plagues Honduras nationally. Almost all of the members of Los Ramirez have personally made the trek to the United States, or have a family member who has. In 2017, 18.8% of Honduras’ GDP came from remittances sent from the United States, and members of the national Chamber of Commerce were quoted in major newspapers stating that the Honduras economy would collapse without them. The result of this incredible migration pattern is a loss of young, able bodied community members and a development of a knowledge base that prioritizes migration as the main way to pursue economic stability for families. Obviously, this is a highly complex economic issue, but Semilla believes in the value of investing in a group like Selguapa with solid prices can help to stem the local tide of migration, and thereby keep families together, and inspired by their work. Now with the prospect of a growing market for their coffee, and a reinforced knowledge in the inherent quality of their product, Los Ramirez have made huge strides in a few short years due to their dedication and passion for the crop that has sustained their family for generations. Since the first members of the group sold at a differentiated price in 2018, producers like Walter have invested in their own beneficios such that many now have their own depulpers. tiled fermentation tanks, and solar dryers. Those who do not but are nonetheless interested to pursue selling at a differentiated price have the ability to do so now by sharing the new ecopulper and expanded drying set up built by Walter’s brothers behind their homes. This is Semilla’s second year purchasing from Selguapa and we increased our purchasing by nearly fivefold. Selguapa is a community that Semilla hope to grow alongside with for many years to come, and this is only possible thanks to roasters like Escape who share in Semilla’s vision of buying exclusively from single communities with the aim of deepening our purchasing impact, and creating a viable and hopeful future for these coffee growers as they begin their first steps as specialty growers. Thank you for supporting Walter, Selguapa, and Semilla.
Farmgate price: 6000 Lempira / quintal exportable green coffee.
National farmgate price (2020): 1800 Lempira / quintal exportable green coffee.
FOB Price: $3.25USD/lb
Total price paid : 4.60$ usd/lb
C-market : 0.99$ usd/lb
Type: Single origin
Notes: Butterscotch, Milk chocolate, Caramel
Region: San Miguel de Selguapa, Comayagua,
Farm: El Pino
Producer: Walter Samuel Ramirez
Cupping score: 86