Jose Martinez has been producing coffee with his mother Hilda since five years ago in Chalatenango, El Salvador. They grow varieties called Pacamara and Pacas on a roughly four-hectare plot that is still under development. Born into a family that’s been cultivating coffee for generations, Jose grew up admiring the passion his grandfather poured into his craft. Today, Jose says he also loves his job.
“It makes me extremely happy to be able to devote time and money to making good coffee. I feel excited when the harvest season arrives and I get to see the results of my effort.”
In the early days when Jose just started growing coffee on his current farm, he battled a fear that the soil might not be suitable for coffee. But this experience – getting through a period of uncertainty – must have made him all the more grateful for the bounty of nature.
“Thanks to the shade trees we planted alongside coffee seedlings, we’ve been able to harvest juicy coffee cherries. We’ve had to deal with diseases like coffee leaf rust, but nothing of the scale we couldn’t overcome. Leaf rust has always been our major concern. But it’s a manageable challenge”
During our interview, Jose spoke with a determined look on his face. His mother Hilda, meanwhile, appeared nervous all the while, tightly clutching a handbag on her lap. But when we asked her about her family and son, her face softened into a smile as she started to share her thoughts.
“It makes me happy to be able to work with my son. When we started, we almost gave up on producing coffee on our farm. So I feel joy now that we are able to grow and harvest coffees here.
I’m a mother of four. Jose is the only one who lives with me. All my other children have gone to the US for work for financial reasons. But we message each other every day and maintain a good relationship. They also help with the maintenance of the farm.”
Hilda was resting her arm on her son’s while she answered our questions. And whenever the conversation turned to his mother, a smile spread over Jose’s face. Their demeanor spoke volumes about a special bond all to their own.
“I know that El Salvador is one of famous coffee producing countries, and that people overseas are in love with coffee from El Salvador. That’s encouraging. And I want to live up to their expectations by continuing to provide high-quality coffee.
I’m really grateful for this opportunity to have people try our coffees. I believe that the key to making a better future is for us to become better humans ourselves and keep on improving the quality of our coffee.”
Hearing them tell their stories, I felt refreshed as if I had taken a deep breath under a cloudless sky. At the end of our interview, Hilda said she was extremely happy because she had always wanted to get to know people from abroad – people whom she only watched on TV. I’m sure this was more than lip service to please us. She must have meant what she said. I can tell that from her personality, which, I imagine, will form the foundation of a better world.