Altitude (masl): 1500-1900
Farm size (ha): 44
Wet/Dry mill: Bella Vista
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Villa Sarchí
Owned and Managed by: Luis Pedro Zelaya Aguirre
Harvest season: December- April (Peak: last days of January and the beginning of February).
Flower Season: May
Annual Rainfall (mm): 1200
Chuito is owned and managed by Luis Pedro Zelaya Aguirre – the owner and operator of Bella Vista Mill in Antigua. Varieties grown on the farm include Villa Sarchí, Bourbon, and Caturra and gravilea trees are used for shade: strict management of the shade is employed, as it is very important for the growing process. Renovations undertaken over Mr. Zelaya’s management of the farm has allowed for the separation of lots by variety and harvest days. Specialized agricultural activities overseen by Mr. Zelaya ensure good production yields and high quality. In addition, cherries are hand-picked by workers living near the farm, creating a good source of local employment.
After cherries are picked, they are taken to Bella Vista for wet processing and dry milling. Coffee is separated by day of picking, variety, and altitude. Once separated, the coffee is either sun-dried on patios, or dried in the greenhouse, which provides a controlled drying environment leading to better cupping results.
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.