Where do we start, when talking about the Fernandez family? Coffee from Javier and Nahun has become so synonymous with Proud Mary that, at this point, they’ve become an integral part of what we do, and more importantly – who we are as a company. The idea of a harvest going by in Honduras, without buying their coffees is unimaginable.
We’ve been purchasing coffee from the Fernandez brothers since 2012, and their coffees really do get better and better every year.
(Clockwise from Left; Andres Fernandez, Proud Mary Coffee Green buyer, James Fairbrass, Nahun Fernandez, Proud Mary Coffee Founder, Nolan Hirte, Javier Fernandez)
Finca Don Andres:
High up in the mountains of Santa Barbara, sits Finca Don Andres. The roads up to the town of Las Flores are hard – 4-wheel drive and good ground clearance is definitely required. Because of the high altitude and cool temperatures, the proximity to Lake Yojoa and air heavy with moisture, the farm is often shrouded in a dense layer of mist – causing the coffee cherries to ripen more slowly.
In 1981, Andres Fernandez planted his first batch of Bourbon on a piece of land he’d recently purchased, he’d decided that coffee was going to be his way of providing for his young family. In those early years, it was a very small and simple operation – Andres would carry his coffee down the mountain on a mule, walking the 4 kilometers on foot, guiding the animal as he went. As the years passed, the farm gradually expanded, and in 2000 he gave a section of the farm to his five sons – at the time, Nahun (the youngest) was 16 years old, and he’s been growing coffee ever since.
In 2010, Nahun, Javier, and their three brothers decided to name the farm Don Andres, in honor of their father. Today they are a family united, with father, children, and grandchildren all growing coffee on the same land.
When we first started working with Javier and Nahun, they grew regionally common varieties, such as Pacas and Bourbon, and produced exclusively washed coffees. Over the years, they’ve grown to become leaders in their community, always on the cutting edge of new techniques and experimentation.
The farm is sectioned out into different, variety specific lots. Gone are the days of producing only washed coffees, using varieties traditionally associated with the region. Today, the Fernandez brothers grow a wide selection of varieties (including geisha), and are keen to try new experimental processing methods. In fact, back in 2016, they produced the first ever naturally processed coffee from Santa Barbara.
In 2018 we noticed that our Honduran producers were doing so well that their production was increasing quicker than we could buy it. Enter... Chicos Buenos (Good Guys).
Chicos Buenos is a community blend that we created with our producers in Santa Barbara so we could take more of their coffee. Because this coffee is a blend of several different lots, from several different producers, it scores higher than any of the individual components on their own. It truly is more than the sum of its parts.
Leveraging the existing producer relationships that we have to fulfil different product lines means we’re able to purchase a wide range of coffees from farmers like Javier and Nahun. Rather than only buying the high scoring micro-lots (87+) that are typically available in smaller volumes, by also purchasing coffees that score in the mid-80s, we’re able to increase our volume, and therefore have a greater financial impact at the farm.
Chicos Buenos brings the fruit to our Angel Wings blend but it also makes a great brew on its own.
(James Fairbrass & Javier Fernandez)
Cup of Excellence:
Nahun Fernandez has placed in the Honduran Cup of Excellence competition three times – each time with the Parainema variety.
Parainema is a mutation from the Timor variety (itself a natural cross between C. arabica and C. canephora (Robusta) that appeared spontaneously on the island of Timor in 1920s.), selected by Instituto Hondureño del Café (IHCAFE) for its resilience to leaf rust.
Most recently, Nahun placed 4th in 2022 with a naturally processed Parainema. Nahun’s first entry in the COE happened in 2018, placing 13th with a washed Parainema. Now, as it happens, we’d already made our selections of Honduran coffees for the year when the results of the Cup of Excellence competition were announced. We were so happy for Nahun and proud of the work that we’d done together, that despite already having purchased a washed Parainema lot from Nahun, we also purchased the lot that he entered into the COE competition.
Financially, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense – because we were paying a lot more for a coffee we already had – but, we just couldn’t help ourselves. It just felt like the thing we had to do.
(Nolan Hirte, Nahun Fernandez, & James Fairbrass)
The story of the famed geisha variety, that was rediscovered in Panama in the early 2000s, growing in the Santa Barbara region of Honduras, will forever be tied to Proud Mary.
During various visits throughout the years Proud Mary founder, Nolan Hirte, took Geisha seeds from Panama (Elida Estate, Hacienda La Esmeralda, & Finca Auromar) and Guatemala (Finca Santa Felica), to Honduras.
Planted at relatively low altitudes, to begin with, to give the plants the best chance at survival, the offspring from these trees have since been planted high up in the mountains of Santa Barbara – specifically, at Finca Don Andres and Finca La Salsa (Benjamin Paz’s farm). Meaning, the Honduran Geisha’s that we purchase come from the same genetic lineage as some of the best geishas in the world.
Because geisha is such a delicate and low yielding variety, the first exportable harvest came in 2021 – of course, we purchased all of it!
Through the years, Javier and Nahun have each been able to purchase small farms of their own. Javier has Los Tanques, and Nahun has El Ocotillo. While the majority of the coffees they produce are still grown at Finca Don Andres, occasionally, we’ll have a coffee from these newer farms on the menu.