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Fifty Years of Work and Faith: A Golden Anniversary at Hato Viejo

In 1973, fifty years ago now, my parents, who inspired me to begin this project, were married. Raised in the valley below, my mother faced some changes when she married my coffee farmer father, and moved up to Hato Viejo. In  the early years of their marriage, my mother adapted to a landscape that could only be traversed by horse or donkey- nothing motorized could navigate those paths- and spent nine years living and raising children on the mountain. There was not a lot of formal education in those years before we moved back down to the valley for school- it wasn’t what my parents had to offer, but the education they did give us was less common. We were...

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Roasting Coffee My Parent’s Way "Torrefacto"

Coffee arrived in the Dominican Republic more than 300 years ago. With my country’s colonization by Spain, Torrefacto, the process by, which the coffee was roasted, arrived along with it. As a child, I watched my grandmother, and then my mother, use this method to roast the coffee everyone drank. The tradition was passed down for generations. Torrefacto, a particular process of roasting coffee beans with sugar, has it’s roots in practicality. When the beans are roasted with sugar, the sugar leaves behind a glaze on the beans that helps preserve them for longer. It was a cheap and effective means of extending the shelf life of the roasted beans. It also provided the added benefit of masking some of...

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A Visit to the Coffee Farm

This trip back to the Dominican Republic was our first since the pandemic began, our first since I began Hato Viejo. While visiting with family was important and wonderful, a big part of this trip was visiting- for the first time in person- our coffee supplier, The Belarminio Ramirez E Hijos Farm, in Jarabacoa.   The day we arrived in the DR, we flew into Santiago de los Caballeros (usually shortened to just Santiago,) the second largest city in the country, and capital of Santiago Province. The Christmas holiday season is a big deal in the DR, and most companies close their doors for the festivities, so getting to the farm before that happened was a big priority, and we were...

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My Inherited Love of Farming

My siblings and I used to complain about my father’s job, when we were growing up. Farmingwasn’t glamorous. My mother would say, “if you don’t want your father’s life, then study, andyou can have a different life.”We didn’t actually dislike my father’s job, and we knew that work’s value, but it was really hardwork, and there was no paycheck until the end of the season. Coffee harvest usually starts inOctober, and runs through until May. A few months of hard labor, with little trickling in in themeantime. The intermediaries took most of it, in the form of advances, and if you didn’t agreeto whatever price they had gotten another farmer to agree to, they could usually find a farmerthat would,...

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A new year at the farmers market

I went into last year’s farmers market season with few expectations. I knew I had something great to share, and most of the Upper Valley hadn’t tried it yet, but I had faith. As the summer went by, I started hearing from people- some customers became regulars, stopping by my booth regularly for another bag of beans- others came by the market every week just for a cup of iced coffee. Over the winter, with the parks covered in snow and ice, a lot of the people I’d seen regularly week after week at the markets started showing up in my inbox- subscribers! Those faces turned up again at the New Year’s market, but I’ll admit, that as the summer...

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