Together Marysabel Caballero and her husband Moises Herrera run Caballero, which consists of about 150 hectares of coffee farms and a dry mill called Xinacla. Marysabel Caballero, who inherited the farms from her parents is largely responsible for overseeing and managing the farms and the people who work on them and Moises, with his background in engineering is responsible for running the mill and innovating processes therein.
We’ve worked with Marysabel and Moises for five years, we’ve pretty much always had a coffee from them on our list and about three years ago we started using lots from their farms as one of our key Unit Fourteen coffees. Caballero primarily produces catuai, and they do so with amazing consistency, coffees we cup from them always score about 86+ points, are very clean, have a great nutty caramel flavour, some plummy red fruit a little bit of wineyness due to the slightly higher acidity. For coffee that you want to drink all day long it’s just perfect. Historically Honduran coffees would age somewhat faster when compared to coffee from other regions but the quality the coffee from farms like this has done wonders to change that perception.
We had plans to visit them in March 2020. Obviously those plans got cancelled which was quite sad as we were planning on spending 4 or 5 days on the farm. We’ve kept communicating with them, primarily through Instagram, which has been really nice. We’ve met four times at various coffee trade shows, in London, in Amsterdam, in Berlin and in Paris. London, Berlin and Paris actually all within the space of a month in 2019. We were really excited to go stay with them, as Marysabel and Moises are such lovely warm and hospitable people. We’ve missed the window to go this year during harvest but hopefully 2022 will be the time we are finally able to make the trip a reality and in the meantime, thankfully we still get to enjoy their tasty coffee.
Marysabel has put in so much work, it’s very inspirational as it’s rare to have such a large farming business run by a woman in Honduras and she runs the farm in such an amazing way, they’ve won Cup of Excellence multiple times, they have all the same pickers year in year out, she provides schooling, nursery and day care for their families. They really provide the full package and you know buying coffee from them that not only is the coffee going to be fantastic but everything behind it will be fantastic. That’s why I was so excited to visit, as it’s more than a farm, it’s somewhere really special.
Picking is something that’s taken very seriously at Caballero’s farms, their pickers are paid above the odds and are employed throughout the year rather than just during the growing season. This has the twofold benefit of offering stable employment to the pickers and means they have the workforce to do labour intensive tasks like remove weeds by hand rather than using herbicides. The pickers are trained to sort the best cherries as they pick them, they’re given cherry bags with two pockets one from the best ripe cherries and one for defective cherries Marysabel believes that coffee quality is at its peak when it is picked, through careful processing that quality can be maintained but never improved.
It shows the humility of her approach, that her best possible impact on the coffee is to not ruin it. Marysabel and Moises are both extremely humble, they’re running a very successful business but they’re running it out of passion and love for coffee. When we saw them at Paris coffee festival they were giving a presentation but they made a point to come to our tiny stand and meet with us and drink their coffee. They can talk endlessly about coffee but they’re interested in you and your team and what you’re doing. They’re so much more than a supplier, they are very much a partner. A partnership where we can have very real and open conversations and one that we see continuing for a long time.
Written by Will Davies from conversations with Eddie Twitchett