Santa Clara (Honey)

  • Country
  • Region
  • Altitude
    1,600 - 1,830m above sea level
  • Variety
  • Processing
  • Owner
    Ricardo Zelaya
  • Awards
    Cup of Excellence 2001, 2009, 2010, 2012

Sweet, winey, and rich, with dark chocolate, red apple, plum, brown sugar and berries.

This very unique and tiny 2 bag micro lot from Santa Clara is 100% Caturra and honey processed. Thanks to careful processing this coffee is really rich and sweet, balanced and clean.

Finca Santa Clara is 90 hectares in size and is  located on the fertile southern slopes of the Volcán de Agua in the Antigua Valley at 1,600-1,830 metres above sea level. The farm has been managed since 1988 by Ricardo Zelaya, the 4th generation of the Zelaya family to have produced coffee at Santa Clara.

Santa Clara was originally purchased in 1974 by Ricardos grandfather. Since taking over the farm, Ricardo has increased the size of coffee planted from 17 hectares up to 100 hectares.

Ricardo is passionately committed to both quality and sustainability. His farms are scrupulously well-managed – from the careful selection of varietals planted, to the close supervision of the dry and wet mills – both of which are located on the property and owned by Ricardo, giving him complete control over quality from picking through to export.

Ricardo continuously strives to improve what he is doing and raise the bar of quality. In recent years, Ricardo has been very focused on improving his processing techniques and infrastructure. In his wet mill he has recently installed tiled tanks and channels to process coffee, ensuring that all surfaces can be kept extra clean. He has also (quite remarkably) just built an incredible dry mill on the property that was only just finished in February this year! In addition he has upgraded all of his drying facilities to ensure that the beans can be dried on raised beds.

The coffee on the plantation is shade grown which protects the plants from direct sunlight, maintains soil health, and provides an important habitat for birds and insect life.

This special micro lot has been handpicked by special pickers employed (and paid higher wages) particularly for their skill at selecting only the ripest and most perfect cherries. The method of ‘special’ picking is one that the Zelayas have used to great effect in the lots that they submit to the Cup of Excellence competition. They’ve recently begun to expand their offerings of lots, such as this one, that utilize the same method of picking.

On the same day that they were picked, the fully ripe cherries were washed thoroughly and taken through the washing channels to ensure there were no floaters. They were then pulped to remove the outer skin, and then transferred directly to the African beds inside the green house where they were turned every 30 minutes initially, and then as the beans dried out this was increased to every 15 minutes to ensure uniform drying. Drying took around 21 days to reach the desired moisture level.


Santa Clara treats their employees like family, and many have been with the farm and the family for generations. For instance, the farm Administrator, Marcos Rompiche, has worked for the Zelayas for 22 years and is the 3rd generation to work the land. The Production Manager, Israel Yool, has 16 years working for the family and is the 2nd generation to do so. Including them, the farm provides work for 25 permanent employees year-round, all of whom help Ricardo manage the processing and production for his farms, Juaja, Santa Clara, Puerta Verde and San Augustin. The family hires an additional 332 additional individuals during the harvest (including 250 for picking alone!)

Ricardo, with his daughter Isabel (who is affectionately called Bel by her family) also have several social initiatives in place to support their temporary and full time workers to improve their quality of life and their happiness and engagement with work. These include providing women workers with other skills such as jewelry, sandal and candy making workshops so that they can have a source of income outside of the coffee harvest.

In addition they have a school onsite for the 50 children of the permanent workers, which has 3 permanent teachers to support it. For children that show potential, Bel, who has a degree in Special Education, has started up the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund, which is focused on supporting the kids through school and/or university with funds provided to support their tuition fees, uniform and books. Currently there are 21 kids that are part of this programme (2 which have been sponsored by MCM). In addition to financial support, every month, specific workshops are run for these children that focus on important skills such as positivity and leadership. Bel and Ricardo’s dream is for the project to achieve formal non-profit status and expand to include not only all the children whose parents work on the farm but also those from surrounding communities.

The workers respect and happiness at Santa Clara was very clearly demonstrated at the Christmas party last year (an annual event to which all of Santa Claras workers and families are invited to dance and eat lots of yummy food). To show their gratitude to Ricardo and his family, the workers surprised them with a video which you can watch here (we can’t encourage you to watch this enough – it will make you smile!).

We have been lucky enough to have been buying and representing Santa Clara since 2008, and we feel so incredibly lucky to work with such a remarkable family and coffee.