The History: The stuff coffee friendships are made of from the grounds up
Barney Mckenzie - Co-Owner
It was back in 2002 when my business partner, Pete and I heard about Ricardo Zelaya growing coffee in Antigua, Guatemala. Ricardo’s brother Juan Carlos Comacho had moved to Vancouver with his family to raise his four children and had become a friend of ours. A few years later in 2006, we made our first trip down to visit the coffee farms. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made since opening our flagship store in West Vancouver back in 1990.
This was our second trip to origin and what a beautiful experience it was. Ricardo Zelaya welcomed us like family, spending a full week with us touring several of his plantations. We fell in love with his infectious laugh, love of life and warm hospitality.
It all started in Antigua Valley in 1908 when Ricardo’s great grandfather immigrated to Guatemala from Spain. He had the vision of getting involved in the coffee industry. Immediately he started acquiring properties in different parts of Guatemala. Management of the farms was passed on from generation to generation. It was in 1989 when Ricardo Zelaya (part of the 4th generation of coffee growers) completed his degree in agribusiness and eagerly started transforming the farms into what they are today.
The crown jewel in his collection is Finca Santa Clara: one of the most beautiful farms we have ever visited. Framed by three large volcanoes, this region is comprised of a rich, volcanic soil full of minerals perfect for growing coffee. You can see and hear the very active Volcan De Fuego’s constant eruptions of smoke and ash on a daily basis.
Ricardo is constantly upgrading and improving Finca Santa Clara. Each time we visit, he’s working on new ways to improve his coffee. Whether it’s improved irrigation, pruning, fertilizing or the latest in processing and drying methods, Ricardo Zelaya is a driving force in the Guatemalan coffee industry.
Saludos Ricar, Guido y Pedro