Erika-Pena-Honduras-Finca Valentina

Erica Pena: Special coffee is grown with love and dedication

We continue our focus on Women in Coffee Industry with an interview with a Honduran farmer Erica Pena, whose coffee Honduras Finca Valentina was part of our special cupping “Coffee from Women for Women” to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

The farmers Erica Pena and her brother Bayron Pena proudly presented their coffee Honduras Finca Valentina in Oro de Santa Barbara, the first regional competition in Santa Barbara, Honduras, where our coffee hunter Jordan Dabov was invited to be a juror. As you know, he loved their coffee and quickly secured it for our catalogue. You have been enjoying our first coffee from the Obata variety for months now.

What has attracted you in the world of specialty coffee so that it became your professional venue?

Erica Pena: Our family has been dedicated to the coffee industry for several years but we did it in a conventional manner. In 2017, we have set ourselves the challenge of entering the world of specialty coffee. Our aim was to produce extraordinary coffee in order to give added value to our product as we know that coffee is a food. We also wanted to approach our farm in a different way bringing benefits for our family and families who work every day in the farm. Of course, the greatest value that our special coffee can bring is to build long-term relationships with our customers, their consumers and our coffee producing communities.

What are the biggest challenges that you had faced and still face as a woman in this business? And, consequently, what advice can you give to a woman who now enters in the business?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is gender inequality since in our country in the coffee sector always worked exclusively men. Today there are more women who have taken the challenge of dedicating them to growing coffee and we demonstrate with facts that when things are done with love and dedication, work becomes a passion and thus we succeed.

How do you support the local community that works in your farm? What are your greatest achievements in this regard?

It is of utmost importance for us to support our local community – the welfare of our workers (peasant women and men) is the main reason why we try to the extent possible support. We try to address most of the needs of their families such as provide ​​health care, infrastructure, school supplies for their children, deliver food, clothes, toys for the children. And of course, supporting them with the everyday work we give them in the farm which allows them to improve the quality of their life.

For a producer to sell its production is of utmost importance. Yet, if you could choose your byers, what type of companies or people would you choose and why?

As we are small producers and our company is a family company, our aspirations are to make connections with family businesses because they understand the role we have in selling our coffee.

How do you evaluate your participation in Oro de Santa Barbara 2018 and are you happy with the ranking of your coffee Honduras Finca Valentina?

Oro de Santa Barbara was a very important platform in order to attract attention to our coffee. We are very proud that Honduras Finca Valentina participated in the competition. This also taught us to strive to continue improving our work until we get excellent quality in each coffee bean. Although we did not win any prize, we won the valuable friendship of Jordan Dabov. We are thankful to DABOV Specialty Coffee for giving us the opportunity to reach the European market.

Do you know that…

Obata is an Arabica coffee variety – a cross between Timor Hybrid 832/2 and Villa Sarchi CIFC 971/10. Pedigree selection made by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil. Released in Brazil in 2000, it is high yielding and rust-resistant. Popular in Central and Latin America.

If you found this interview interesting, read also our interview with the South Korean Q Grader Yunson Lee.