“Producing specialty coffee is more than a job; it’s a passion”
Marcala, Honduras, 10 July 2020 (IICA). Twenty-seven-year-old Gerardo Javier Peñalba is honoring his family’s almost century-long coffee farming legacy by making his coffee the most coveted product in an international online auction that will be held on August 12.
“I only did what I had to do to represent my family, which has been involved in coffee farming for almost 100 years. I took it upon myself to honor that heritage”, explained Peñalba, who is leading the auction with a 93 percent score.
According to Peñalba, the Geisha coffee variety adapts quite well to the Marcala region, whose ecological environment, characterized by abundant fruit trees and banana plants, increases the quality of the coffee bean. Peñalba runs the Finca Azul Esmeralda farm, located 1,600 meters above sea level.
These production and farm management conditions enabled the farm to win first place in the specialty coffee competition of the Marcala Coffee Festival, held in March 2020.
The third of four children, Peñalba forms part of the fourth generation is his family that has carried on the tradition of producing and commercializing specialty coffee in the Las Flores community of the municipality of Marcala, in the La Paz department.
This history of success afforded Peñalba the opportunity to participate in the first Online Auction of Specialty Coffees, which will be held on August 12. The auction is being organized by the Origen Café Marcala denomination of origin, with support from the Central American Program for Integrated Coffee Rust Management (PROCAGICA), implemented by the European Union (EU) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
Peñalba will participate in the auction with six quintals of specialty coffee. However, it is the quality, not the quantity of his coffee, that sets it apart from the rest.
“The Finca Azul Esmeralda farm dates back to 1896; it belonged to my paternal great-great-grandfather, then to my grandfather and then to my father. From a young age, I learned the value of growing coffee. When I finished high school, I decided to study agronomy to carry on my father’s legacy. Today, I conduct my work with a great sense of pride and responsibility”, he stated.
For the young producer, quality is everything. “For me, quality is our livelihood, our work, our personal brand. I work day to day to produce the best possible coffee bean, with a view to honoring my family’s legacy and gaining access to the international market. In this regard, the online auction opens up a window of opportunity that we must take advantage of”, stated Peñalba.
Peñalba’s main motivation for participating in the first online auction is to continue improving and introducing the rest of the world to the Marcala trademark. “We don’t produce large volumes of coffee here, but we do produce high-quality, internationally renowned coffee”, he noted.
The young producer is clear on the professional path he would like to follow, highlighting his interest in studying international trade to better promote the high-quality coffee produced in the municipality of Marcala in the main European and Asian markets.
Through the implementation of PROCAGICA, the European Union and IICA work together to improve the living conditions of rural populations in coffee-farming areas across Central America and the Dominican Republic.
Institutional Communication Division