Farm: Santa Cruz
Trademark(s): Santa Cruz
Altitude (masl): 1500-1650
Farm size (ha): 13.97
Wet & dry mill: Bella Vista
Average Production (46kg bags) green: 153.85
Varieties: Typica, Caturra, Villa Sarchí, Bourbon
Owner: Maria Regina Ponce de Leal
Farm Managed by: Luis Pedro Zelaya
Harvest season: November – April
Annual Rainfall (mm): 952.50
About Finca Santa Cruz
María Regina Ponce de Leal is the owner of Santa Cruz and we believe hers is one of the best and most beautiful coffee farms in Antigua. It is located right on the border of Antigua and boasts a spectacular view of the city. Also unique to Santa Cruz is the preservation of an old church, which provides the farm with a very “Antigua-esque” ambiance, matching the city’s ruins and other old buildings. Ms. Ponce de Leal is concerned with keeping the church on-site; in preservation of Antigua’s history and aesthetic.
Luis Pedro Zelaya has managed this farm since 2004 and his wet and dry mill – Bella Vista – is responsible for the processing of Santa Cruz’s cherries, which are handpicked from December to April. The weather and altitude in Antigua are invaluable inputs to obtaining the high quality coffee we now expect from this farm, and the agricultural activities performed here contribute heavily to the quality of the coffee produced. Since Luis Pedro took over the management of the farm, it has gone through major renovations, including the planting of new coffee shrubs and an extensive shade cover system.
The farm produces the Typica, Caturra, Villa Sarchi and Bourbon varieties. Most of the production is Caturra and Bourbon and all the coffee we have chosen this year is of the Bourbon variety. Fun fact: on the farm is a tree that is over 100 years old and still producing fruit.
About Bella Vista & Zelcafé
Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora (LPZZ) is the fourth generation in his family to be working in the coffee business. The Zelaya family’s first farm was Carmona, followed by Bella Vista, which where the wet, dry mill facilities, and Zelcafé staff offices were later built and are currently located.
For many years, the family’s business focus was on commercial coffee production and export but in 2000, LPZZ began developing and changing Zelcafé’s focus into specialty coffee/microlots, with the support of some early clients. Over time Zelcafé has been able to successfully transition the business into solely focusing on specialty coffee. For the Zelaya family, their coffee endeavours are not only about business; their aim is to provide a good basis for generations of their family and community to come. With this in mind, they are constantly looking for ways to provide jobs to as many families in their communities as possible, as well as supplying the best quality coffee they can to their clients.
Partnerships & Services
The family has worked with small producers in Antigua since they first started coffee farming. New relationships almost always come from introductions from families already working with the Zelaya family, ensuring close and stable partnerships. In addition to buying cherries from farms, Bella Vista also manages estate farms that owners don’t want to sell but don’t know how manage themselves.
The Bella Vista team take care of all the planning, execution and monitoring of the resources each farm they own or manage have: human, technical, financial, and knowledge/training. In the case of the small producers that they buy cherries from, the team not only buy cherries at a premium, they also provide technical assistance and the financing of inputs. Bella Vista is constantly looking to improve its agricultural activities to reduce chemicals to a minimum and in turn share their scientific knowledge with other farms.
Sustainability & the Future
Bella Vista continuously encourages its workers to get proper education and in special cases, finances education for some of them. The facility also often offers workshops on different topics. The Zelaya family farms all have C.A.F.E Practices implemented and in the coming years the family will try to implement a WaSH project at one of their biggest farms.
Other future plans include research on water treatment and the building of treatment plants and hopefully, the construction of another greenhouse.