My name is Yaniris, (Yani to my friends) and while I now live with my husband and children in rural New Hampshire, I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, the seventh of nine children. My parents raised us to help work on the farm, to make contributions to our community, to get an education, and to support each other. On our land we grew coffee, cacao, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, and raised livestock, which sustained and provided for the family.
I also grew up drinking really good coffee. I just didn’t know how good, until I left.
This last year, as the world was upended by the pandemic, my husband Dan gave up coffee for a while. It didn’t last. Six months in, I woke to find him grinding beans, and the first thing out of my mouth was “nothing like a good, fresh Dominican coffee.” My mom used to roast the beans with a little sugar in a pan over the wood fire (called a fogon back home) and the smell comes back to me from time to time. It’s the smell of childhood, the smell of my home.
But the unfortunate truth is- we don’t really get that coffee here in the states. While there is a very long tradition of growing coffee in the DR, 90% of it is exported to Latin America, and the highest quality beans are exported to Europe. That’s nice, but we don’t live in Europe.
The next thing I knew, I was spending a lot of time on the phone. As travel had become impossible in this surreal time, I relied on family and friends back home to help me make the connections I needed. Because I suddenly had a goal and a passion: I was going to bring to my new home what I was missing from my old home. And I was going to figure out how to do right the right way. It had to be the best coffee to be had. It had to be grown responsibly, sustainably, and I needed to know that the people growing it, my countrymen and women, would be paid fairly for it.
It hasn’t even been six months since the morning I woke to Dan grinding coffee, and I am so proud to share Hato Viejo Coffee, and a little piece of heritage, with you.