Mario Ortez Herrera
FINCA SAN MARTIN STORY
From age 8, Mario would help his father on the family farm, doing whatever he could until he was 15. At that time, the area where the farm was found became part of the war zone, and the whole family had to flee. In 1991 after things had calmed down somewhat, Mario managed to move back to the farm and start again with the production of coffee.
Mario remembers that when they started on the farm, the area had very poor access roads, and coffee had to be transported on horseback for 8 kilometers to arrive at the nearest point where a vehicle could access it. A road was finally in the process of being constructed, and even though this process was significantly delayed, it was finally completed in October 1998. That same month, Hurricane Mitch arrived in the north of Nicaragua and destroyed this road that had taken so long to construct. Mario dryly recalls that they had to return to using the old horse to move their coffee again after just a week of using the new road. Luckily though, the reconstruction of this road was not delayed, and for the following harvest, it was back and running again.
Mario started with specialty coffee 5 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Mario employs up to 40 workers during the harvest to help collect cherries. The most significant change for him has been to train his workers only to pick ripe cherries.