Norma is 88 this year. She was born and raised in rural Honduras, in a village between Corquin and la Copan where her grandparents used to live. Her father was a pharmacist who helped provide their village with healthcare. Her mother was a strong woman and the head of the household.
Both Norma’s parents decided to have a farm each with different crops and cattle and they were the first people to introduce coffee farming to the region. They were well respected, and people still talk about them today.
Norma wanted to be a doctor but because of the civil war and for religious reasons, her parents wouldn’t allow her to study medicine. Instead she studied nursing in Guatemala. She specialised in obstetrics and went to the US and to Puerto Rico to work in social services.
Norma returned to Honduras in her early 30s and spent most of her adult life in the capital, Tegucigalpa, with her husband and their four children. She worked in the government hospital with her husband.
When Norma’s father passed away in Corquin, her husband went to help his mother-in-law on the family coffee farms. Norma stayed in the capital with their children to make sure they could go to good schools.
One of her sons, Donaldo, studied agronomy in Tegucigalpa and decided to go back to Corquin to work on the family farms. He was managing the farms with his grandmother until she passed away in 2013. Donaldo has made a lot of changes to ensure that the farms are more efficient. He has planted a lot of different varieties and decided to grow organic coffee. The whole family decided to rename the farms Sol Naciente and San Rafael.
Norma, who was managing the family business remotely from the capital, joined Donaldo in Corquin when her husband passed away. They have up to 60 employees during harvest time. Their farms are considered coffee schools because many of their employees end up having their own farm, applying what they learned at Sol Naciente and San Rafael to their own practices.
All of the coffee produced goes to the Aruco Cooperative to be processed. Donaldo became the manager at Aruco 12 years ago.
Through their long-lasting relationship with Falcon, Norma and her family have gained access to reliable markets and they’ve invested the premiums paid by Falcon back into the farms: they have been able to produce more micro lots, train their employees and make the cooperative more efficient. (In partnership with Falcon Specialty)