Owner Ivan Ovalle is laser focused on producing high quality, ecologically-friendly coffees at his farm, Finca Palo Blanco in La Democracia, Huehuetenango which lies at 1,550 to 1,950 masl. Ovalle holds an engineering degree and has utilized his training to increase Finca Palo Blanco’s water efficiency and to ensure that workers pick only the ripest cherry with the highest sugar content.
The farm is 60 hectares, 10 of which are devoted to forest reserves, while the remaining 50 hectares are planted with coffee trees. In addition to growing Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra and Pacamara varieties, Ovalle also plants less common varieties including SL28, Marsellesa and Parainema at the farm’s higher altitudes.
This coffee is also Organic, which means that it was grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Organic farming can also include ecologically-focus farming method that aim to reduce erosion, increase irrigation and improve overall soil health. With the help of an organic certification, producers receive higher prices and they, their families and any workers on their farm are not exposed to dangerous chemicals. Fewer chemicals used on a farm also means less run off and fewer chemicals finding their way into our global water systems.
Ovalle is meticulous about teaching workers to pick only ripe, red cherry at the exactly right moment. He’s used analyses of Brix degrees (sugar content) to find the optimal moment at which to pick cherry. Workers selectively handpick cherry according to their training.
Palo Blanco is dedicated to protecting the environment from any adverse effects of coffee growing. Ovalle says he’s been improving and refining Palo Blanco’s processing methods for more than a decade. He’s been focused on reducing water usage year after year and working with various certification programs to improve the farm’s environmental and social impacts.