10 Minutes With Anabella Meneses: Part Two

We conclude our interview with coffee producer Anabella Meneses of Santa Felisa in Guatemala.


Photos courtesy of Jiyoon Han

From the editor: Last week we began chatting with Anabella Meneses, whose family won the Cup of Excellence award in 2017. This week, we wrap up the discussion by talking to Anabella about her goals for Santa Felisa and how COVID-19 has impacted her family farm.

Anabella at the coffee lab attached to her farm, which is where she sample roasts and cups all of her different coffees to check their quality.

Jiyoon Han: What are some things you’re looking to accomplish personally for yourself within Santa Felisa, and accomplish as goals for Santa Felisa?

Anabella Meneses: Personally, satisfaction. It’s a beautiful feeling when you see your farm blossoming, and when you see that the benefits of producing great coffee (are) changing the mind of the community and the people here. When you improve quality, they can improve quality of life also. It’s a big task because we have to invest in many things. Personally my very deep satisfaction is to see the community improve because then, my life and my neighbors’ lives will improve, too. 

How I see the farm in the future … always improving quality, getting into more markets, working more with the nano-lots, baristas, coffee shops, and working with people that really appreciate great coffee. Nice coffee with a beautiful story behind it. We have to make more investments, like improve (the) warehouse, have our own micro dry mill and machinery so it is easier to work with nano-lots. We want to own and operate a proper dry mill. 

Anabella checking the sugar content of freshly picked coffee cherries on the brix refractometer.

How has COVID-19 affected Santa Felisa’s day-to-day?

Day-to-day, we have moved the schedule from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead to 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. We work continuously from 6 to 2. We have to work faster. Luckily we’re not in the picking season anymore. When the country began the 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. quarantine, it was challenging for us because we were in the last three days of picking coffee. 

We are in the mountains, so we have “less risk” than being in the city, but all the pickers wear masks and I trained them on the COVID-19 protocol. Many people didn’t know about COVID-19 here, they didn’t know how or why exactly the virus is so contagious. I got them all together and gave a presentation about what it is, what happened with it, and how we have to keep the elderly away. I taught them how to wash their hands thoroughly. We thankfully finished picking in the last three days. Now we’re checking the temperature for all the workers and talking about social distancing. 

The team at Santa Felisa separating red cherries from purple cherries.

How do you think COVID-19 will affect your future plans?

How I see this is going to affect operations in the future? Usually the first export is to Japan every year in March. Now logistically everything has stopped in Guatemala City. We’re looking to export in June. I hope it is before June, but we have to get in line with the industry and see how we can flow in a better way. Many clients at this time of year, (in) other years, have asked us (to) “keep this quantity of this coffee,” but this year is not the same. Clients express generally that they want our coffee but it is not followed up with formal email or booking. From our side, we don’t know how this is affecting our clients and partners. I see a future with the nano-lots. With clients perhaps who will roast and brew at home? We need to do more marketing on social media. We’re looking for solutions on how to adjust. We need resilience. And we will flow with the market.

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A native New Yorker, Jiyoon Han is a Q Arabica Grader, Q Processing Generalist, and was a judge for the U.S. Coffee Championships 2019 Brewers Cup Prelims. As Chief Daughter at Bean & Bean Coffee in NYC, Jiyoon sources, roasts, and cups coffee. She’s a student at the Harvard Business School, where she is co-president of the Coffee & Tea Club.

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