• Country
  • Region
    New Oriente
  • Municipality
  • Department
  • Altitude
    1,000-1,200m above sea level
  • Variety
  • Processing
    Fully Washed
  • Owner
    Ricardo Zelaya and Christian Feucht

Creamy and perfumed with juicy grape, brown sugar, almond and milk chocolate. Good for espresso.

As a fourth generation coffee producer, Ricardo Zelaya has been surrounded by coffee for his entire life. His personal journey in the industry, however, began in the late 80s, when he graduated from the Zamorano School of Agriculture in Honduras. After graduating, he worked on his family’s farm. At the age of 21, he purchased his own piece of land in the eastern part of Guatemala, on the slopes of the Sierra del Merendon mountain range in New Oriente, near the border of Honduras.

Ricardo purchased the farm with 52-year-old Gerardo Feucht, who had been a dear friend of Ricardo’s father. Together Ricardo and Gerardo started the farm from scratch, planting coffee and building a wet mill. Over the years Gerardo became not only a business partner, but also a friend and important mentor for Ricardo. He complemented Ricardo’s understanding of farming with an in depth understanding of processing, and played a vital role in setting up the wet mill which is located at the farm.

The region where Carrizal is located is extremely remote, and takes around nine hours of driving to get to. Only in the last decade has power and cell phone coverage come to the area, and as a result the early years at the farm were particularly gruelling and challenging as Ricardo had to build all of the required infrastructure himself.

One of Ricardo’s early joys at the farm was being given the opportunity to experiment and try first-hand everything he had learned in his studies. This curiosity and openness to new techniques has continued over the decades, and Ricardo has continuously sought to innovate and refine his approach to coffee harvesting and processing, in order to produce the very best coffee possible.

Today Carrizal is 180-hectares in size, with 82-hectares dedicated to coffee. Everything on the farm is scrupulously well-managed—from the careful selection of varietals planted, and attention given to plant nutrition and pruning, to the close supervision of the wet mill. The farm is planted out with a number of varieties including Caturra, Bourbon, Villa Sarchi, Pacas, Marsellesa, Obata, San Isidro, Victoria, and Catuai. This particular lot is 100% Caturra.

The climate at Carrizal is cloudy and relatively wet (receiving between 1,600–2,000mm of rainfall each year), with a stable climate and limited sunlight. Ricardo has planted an extensive tree nursery on the farm which services all of his farms—he also owns and manages four farms in Antigua. The nursery benefits from the rich soil and eight months of rain, allowing for very healthy seedlings to flourish.

Ricardo has a loyal and dedicated team of 40–50 permanent workers, and 250–300 seasonal workers during the harvest, and many of his staff have worked on the farm and with the family for generations. He recognises that his people are his most valuable asset,“because 80% of the cost of coffee is labour—you need to depend on a lot of people. I think that if your people are earning a good salary, if they have good conditions and if they’re happy, then they’ll do a better job, and with more will.”


Every cherry at Carrizal is selectively hand-picked and sorted, then pulped and fermented for 8–10 hours in tiled tanks. The beans are then washed to remove any remaining pulp, pre dried in drum driers at 40°C and then carefully dried for 10–20 days on raised beds, with a greenhouse-style enclosed canopy, which features walls that can be lifted up and down to maximise airflow, and control temperature and humidity. This method of drying allows Ricardo more control over the process, enabling him to ensure the coffee is dried slowly and evenly.

Once dry, the coffee is stored in parchment until it is ready for export. It is then milled at Ricardo’s dry mill in Antigua which is located at Santa Clara. The management of this meticulously run mill is overseen by a talented team who carefully monitor every stage of milling to ensure high quality expectations are met. Throughout the process, Ricardo also ensures that all organic by-products are recycled and reused.

Ricardo has a dedicated lab located on his property and a QC team focused on analysing every single lot produced on the farm. Balmer Aragón heads up the QC program and is charge of all of the roasting and cupping. He works closely with Edgar Deleon who is also the assistant farm administrator of Santa Clara.


In recent years, Ricardo and his daughters, Bel and Katia, have implemented several social initiatives to benefit their employees across all of their farms, with the objective of supporting them and their families to improve quality of life, and gain higher job satisfaction.

Some initiatives have focused on health, with workshops for employees on basic hygiene and education around the importance of drinking filtered water. On the back of this, the Zelayas created a Ecofilter finance program, where a worker would pay for half of the filter and farm would pay out the other half.

Other initiatives have focused on female empowerment. All female employees, or female family members were welcomed to workshops where they learnt new skills like sewing, cooking, traditional candy making and jewellery making. These skills provided the women with the opportunity to create an important source of income in the coffee off-season, and also helped to build a sense of community and purpose.

There are also some long-term initiatives focused on education that have been implemented. At Carrizal, the Zelaya family, along with Bean Around the World, built a primary school in 2008. Today this school has around 60 children attending from kindergarten to year seven. This has enabled the children to attend school right where their parents work, removing the obstacle of travelling time which stops many children in rural areas being able to access an education. Every year, new additions, renovations, and better quality learning systems have been incorporated into the school. The most recent improvement is a computer lab, with 25 computers for the children.

In 2019, Ricardo also set up a ‘Coffee High School’, focusing on those employees who are interested in pursuing a career in coffee. The two-year course (which is run on the weekends so students can maintain their full-time jobs) requires students to have completed studies up to the equivalent of Year 10 in Australia, however there is no age limit for the students. In 2019 the first cohort to commence their studies was made up of eighteen students; this number will double to thirty-six in 2020 when the next cohort begins their first year of the course. Topics in the course cover everything from pruning and picking, through to wet and dry processing, and cupping. “This program is aimed at ensuring we are training the next generation of coffee professionals.” Ricardo explained.


This is the first year we have purchased coffee from Carrizal and we are thrilled to have it on our menu. So much love has been poured into this farm by Ricardo over the last three decades. “This farm is very special to me,” he explains. “It is remote, in the middle of nothing. But the farm is very nice, and we have put 33 years of work into it. We love the coffee production and the community we are connected to there.”

The coffee from New Oriente, where this coffee is produced is known for its body and balance and this is what this coffee delivers. It also delivers beautiful florals and sweetness. We hope you enjoy it!