Nestled in the mountains, about a 2 hour drive from Huatulco's core, this eco tour is an excellent way to spend the day while walking in the shoes of the more than 100 workers employed here.
A trip into the mountains takes you to this Huatulco eco tour. The breathtaking views should really be considered part of the tour.
Señor Gomez is the current owner and operator of Finca El Pacifico. He is a very nice - happy go lucky - man who is an expert at his craft.
A typical day at the plantation consists of picking beans from the vast fields on location. People are so used to seeing the finished product that many don't realize that the beans start off red!
Because this coffee plantation is 100% organic, it is vital that they keep a mass amount of healthy trees on reserve. This is a typical greenhouse where they grow and nurture a large number of seedlings at any given time.
When it comes to organic Huatulco coffee plantations, it is surprisingly hard to come across an authentic working operation. Finca el Pacifico is one of the few that can genuinely say they are a functioning plantation, that are still both producing and selling beans.
The family has been in the business for over 100 years, passing it down from generation to generation. Currently, the plantation employs more than 100 local workers who aid in any given step of the production process.
Finca el Pacifico is located about a 2 hour drive into the mountain from Huatulco. This may seem like a rather long drive; however, you will quickly discover that the drive itself should be considered part of the tour.
With amazing views, the drive can literally leave you in the clouds, on the right day.
This is a full day tour; after breakfast, you will be picked up and taken to the plantation. Returning late in the afternoon/early evening.
Señor Gomez is the owner who lives in the on-site home with his family. The plantation has been in the Gomez family for generations, previously operated by both his father and grandfather. If you're lucky, he will be the one to give the tour while providing you with inside information on running a plantation. He only speaks Spanish, however, there's always someone following the tour who will translate.
While on the tour, you will be served an authentic Oaxacan meal which is both prepared and served in the family's home. A unique and personal experience found at this coffee plantation tour.
During your day at the plantation, you will be taken on a step-by-step tour of what goes on in a typical day of work:
To begin, workers take to the fields at 7am every morning and pick until around 5pm. The fact that they are able to do this daily speaks to the volumes of coffee beans found on location.
In fact, there are a total of 200,000 coffee trees on the plantation! Managing these tree can be quite the task, especially since Finca el Pacifico is an organic plantation.
After a century in business, they have come up with more than a few tricks of the trade to deal with these challenges. For instance, they use cedar, bamboo and banana trees to act as a natural defense and shade for the coffee trees.
While on the tour, Señor Gomez will give you the opportunity to taste a fresh coffee bean right from the tree. Surprisingly you will find it to be rather sweet in taste.
After picking the beans, the workers gather their crop and take it down to the production room to be processed for export.
At this stage the raw coffee beans are dumped in a 100L tank to test the quality of the beans. If the beans sink they are good where as if they float, they are bad. The defective beans, are then scraped off the surface. This process makes sifting through the thousands of coffee beans much more efficient.
The beans will soak in the water for anywhere from 30-36 hours so they have the opportunity to ferment. After which a conveyer belt is used to retrieve and relocated the beans. As the beans tumble along the belt, they are freed from their outer skins going from a red color to white.
The beans are then laid on a football field-sized concrete pad where they can dry out over the course of 5 days. Once the beans have reached a 12% humidity level, they go from a white to a more greenish blue.
At this point the beans are bagged and stored for up to a month as they wait in line to be roasted. During this stage the coffee is referred to as 'parchment coffee'.
Prior to being roasted, the beans are taken and mechanically separated by size. A process needed to ensure the beans are roasted evenly. The beans roast at 100˚C for 30-40 minutes. About 25 kilos of beans are roasted at a time resulting in an end product weighing around 20 kilos. In any given day the plantation will produce 100-150 kilos of finished product.
You can buy the finished product to take home for around $20 USD a pound.
The plantation includes a series of greenhouse which store the nursing seedlings. When the trees are big enough, they are then transplanted to the fields. A process done to ensure they have a healthy crop for the future.
This truly is an authentic coffee plantation tour; something which, as mentioned, is hard to come by these days. Many other places claim to be a functioning coffee plantation, when in fact, they are simply 'for show'.
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