“My children, my friends and my trees will speak for me.”
This quote is etched in the tombstone of Finca Padilla — the founder of Finca El Triunfo farm, one of Guatemala’s oldest coffee farms — and it greets visitors who enter the surrounding botanical garden. Padilla’s vision and passion for nature is still evident on the farm today and is one of the driving forces behind the farm’s innovation.
El Triunfo is nestled in the hills of Santa Rosa, Guatemala. Triunfo is Spanish for triumph, and you will quickly learn how this farm lives up to the name. The family-owned farm has been growing coffee for more than 100 years. It sits on more than 700 hectares of rain forest and overlooks nearby volcanoes.
There are advantages to growing coffee for so long, like mastering the best production techniques and experimenting with new ones. Padilla devoted his life to making the farm a tropical garden, collecting and planting various tree species from all parts of Guatemala. This tradition of collecting and planting diverse tree species has continued and inspired coffee variety experiments on the farm.
Developing Resistant Coffee Shrubs
As with many plants, coffee shrubs are susceptible to pests and disease. Since coffee is the second most traded product in the world, the risk of coffee farms losing coffee crops has a significant economic impact on the communities dependent on it. This threat creates an urgent need to develop resistant coffee shrubs and El Triunfo is at the forefront of doing it.
Growing for Success
Despite the heavy canopy, the farm is noticeably well-kept and operates in a very systematic fashion. El Triunfo employs more than 300 workers throughout the year to prune, plant, harvest, and process coffee for export. Additionally, the farm has invested in creating a nursery composed of 280,000 plants.
This love of nature and using it to grow coffee has proved to be a symbiotic relationship for El Triunfo, and the surrounding habitat. It has led to better quality coffee. In fact, El Triunfo has been recognized by Illy Café as one of Guatemala’s top “strictly hard bean” (SHB) and awarded the highest honor, “Flor del Café” award by the National Coffee Association of Guatemala (Anacafe) for the farm’s high-quality beans and its effort to create a national coffee culture. Visit arborday.org to learn more about responsibly-grown coffee.