Nurturing family, coffee for next generation of farmers

Some of Starbucks’ 100 million tree donation flowers in Guatemala

For the Pachecos, figuring out how to make it work really didn’t feel like a choice.

Seven years ago, an outbreak of coffee rust began destroying crops across Central America.

“Leaf rust entered the country of Guatemala in the year 2012,” says Kevin Pacheco, a coffee farmer in the Jalapa region. “Before the rust appeared, we had better coffee plantations, more vigorous. So, it is a big problem.”

“When there is no coffee, there is no business,” says Catalina Pacheco, 72, a second-generation coffee farmer. “It is what gives life to Guatemala.”

Catalina is Kevin’s grandmother. Coffee farming is the family business. So, “we have, over time, been learning,” says Kevin, 22.

Catalina says that she worked in coffee from the time she was young and always wanted to be “a real coffee owner.” She and her husband, Carlos Lima, bought the 12.5-hectare coffee farm that Kevin now farms.

“I learned how to work from them,” says Kevin.

The rust outbreak could have derailed the dream. But instead, Kevin “is having the thrill of his life,” says his grandmother.

A 2016 donation to the Pacheco farm of 6,000 rust-resistant trees, as part of Starbucks’ One Bag for Every Tree initiative (now the 100 Million Trees program), is helping. So far, more than 30 million trees have been donated in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador This year in Guatemala, the trees produced their very first harvest.

Kevin has stepped wholeheartedly into the role of fourth-generation coffee farmer, and his passion for the work is leading the way for the generation after him to learn alongside him, just as he learned beside his grandparents.

“The idea is to teach the future generations so that they learn how to take care of the coffee, so it doesn’t get lost.”

Kevin Pacheco, a fourth-generation coffee farmer, looks out across the valley where his family's farm is. In 2016, Starbucks donated 6,000 rust-resistant trees to Pacheco's grandmother, Catalina Pacheco, matriarch and head of the family farm she owned with her recently deceased husband.
After an early-morning assessment of Kevin's trees, he and Catalina carry coffee cherries picked on his parcel of the family land. Catalina gifted a piece of her coffee farm, along with thousands of trees donated from Starbucks, to her grandson to provide him with a clear sense of ownership and a path to continue the family tradition.
After weighing the cherries, Kevin and his uncles load coffee cherries into his truck as Catalina keeps track of each bag, in preparation for them to be transported to the next stage of processing.
An afternoon tradition, Catalina prepares coffee for her family, which is extensive and not often all together given the many varied responsibilities of running the family's farm. Without deep and lasting family unification and support, Catalina says, you can't get far. The coffee Catalina is serving was grown, harvested, dried, roasted and ground by her and her family on the farm.
Catalina and her sons Raul Fernando, left, and Jose Adolfo survey this year's coffee harvest on a plot of land just behind her home.

Kevin checks on his coffee trees early one morning on his farm. He said that when he's alone on the farm he likes to talk to the plants as they know when they are being loved or not. He received this land as well as the trees from his grandmother over four years ago.

Lidia Aracely, daughter of Catalina's, feeds her son Jared in her mother's kitchen as her nieces and other family members prepare for afternoon coffee together. Catalina has built a strong atmosphere for community and family on the farm. With support from each other, they are able to succeed.
Kevin calls to check on the status of cherries that will be collected later in the day. As a fourth generation farmer, Kevin has grown up around coffee. He has made the choice to stay on the farm and carry out his family's business. Catalina describes Kevin as a "working man." She's proud of the hard worker he's become.
Maria Valenzuela, Kevin's sister, is in charge of the weigh station down the street from their farm. On top of their own harvest, the Pacheco's work with local small lot farmers to help sell their coffee as well. Guatemala is predominantly made up of small lot farmers. For those farmers who don't grow enough to run their own operations, they sell frequently to larger farms, to help aid with the process.
After the day's haul is weighed, Kevin loads the cherries into his pickup with the help of his uncle and Catalina's son-in-law, Otto Renaldo Garcia Oliva. Coffee in Guatemala is very important. Catalina said without coffee, there is no business.
thumbnail for Starbucks new lavender drinks offer a taste of spring for everyone

Starbucks new lavender drinks offer a taste of spring for everyone