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Catch Up with Renaldo Ovalle, Vides58 – Huehuetenango Guatemala

Vides58, third generation coffee producers who have passed down their passion and commitment to quality coffee. In 1958, Jorge Vides, the grandfather of the family, founded Fina La Bolsa in La Libertad, Huehuetanango Guatemala. Originally, the coffee farm was purely a hobby, as Jorge’s main occupation was a doctor. Humanitarian at heart, Jorge became the director of the national hospital, which bears his name, as well as founding a school the family farm, which is still open today.

In 2001, the second and third generation focused the production of the farm to specialty coffee. Today, Finca La Bosca along with neighbouring farms, have helped create new production systems to create single varieties and special quality blends.

While COVID has prevented us from visiting again this year, we have caught up with Renardo Ovalle, the grandson of Jorge Vides, to be able to give everyone an understanding of the history, and how they have come to creating some of the best coffee Guatemalan coffee.

Tell us a little bit about Vides58’s history and where it is today

We are a family that produces coffee in the Huehuetenango Guatemala region between 1200 to 2000 masl. A third generation of producers who have passion and commitment to quality coffee cultivation.

In 1958, Jorge Vides, the patriarch of the family, founded Finca La Bolsa; a coffee plantation located in La Libertad, Huehuetenango. Jorge Vides bought this land, which was then covered in forests, and proceeded to cultivate bourbon and caturra coffee varieties.

While being a full-time doctor, working Monday through Friday and constantly scheduling visits to his patients from various regions of the country, the farm was his real hobby. His passion for health led him to become Director of the National Hospital of Huehuetenango, which to this day, bears his name.

His humanitarian sense extended beyond coffee production. In 1980, he founded a school that still runs on the farm, which has since been named after him and authorised by Ministry of Education. To add to his success, four years later, Anacafé named him ‘Distinguished Coffee Grower’ due to his success in production work.

My grandfather started planting coffee in 1958. However, in 2002 we started tasting to differentiate qualities and improve processes. This allowed us to differentiate our quality and get partners interested in buying our coffee.

Today, we are a company with a profound sense of tradition with a knack for innovation. With 9 farms, producing washed, natural and honey process, owned by Vides Family. We pride ourselves on our social, agricultural, and environmental conscious processes, and continue to work with neighbouring communities to support development in our region.

 

What are the core beliefs and values of Vide58 today?

We believe in business relationships with roasters and importers are based on consistent quality and passion for coffee. We believe in transparency and traceability, where growers, importers and roasters benefit from value-added products and long-term relationships.

We believe that this heritage can be passed down to new generations. We believe in sustainable development of people and communities as the only way to improve living standards through properly remunerated work, with quality and consistency, achieved thanks to coffee opportunity and passion.

In your opinion, what makes Huehuetenango Guatemala coffee stand out? Are there any challenges of the region?

Of the three non-volcanic regions, Huehuetenango is the highest and driest under cultivation. Thanks to the dry, hot winds that blow into the mountains from Mexico’s Tehuantepec plain, the region is protected from frost, allowing Highland Huehue to be cultivated up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters).

Uneven weather conditions and lack of labour due to migration I would say are the main challenges.

What is the importance of coffee in your region?

Many of the people from Huehuetenango work directly or indirectly with coffee as it is the most important product. Without coffee, we would be unable to do a lot of the social work that we do in the region, such as our school.

A little bit about you now! When you are not drinking coffee what are you doing?

I like to exercise, walk around the mountains, and read.

If someone was to come visit, what would you recommend?

The main tourist attractions in the department include the source of the San Juan River and the restored Maya ruins of Zaculeu. The town of Chiantla is a centre for religious tourism, with the Catholic Church being a pilgrimage destination due to its image of the Virgin of Candelaria, known locally as Nuestra Señora de Chiantla (“Our Lady of Chiantla”). They must try our local food, which is mainly corn torilla, black beans and potato!

Thank you for sitting down with us, and we hope to see you soon in Guatemala!