Foundation: The Canales family & Saint-Henri micro-roaster

Fondation: La famille Canales &  Saint-Henri micro torréfacteur|Foundation: The Canales family & Saint-Henri micro-roaster

I
t was in the month of March 2009 that I took my first coffee sourcing trip for the company that I had dreamed of founding. It emerged two years later: Saint-Henri micro-torréfacteur.

 

The purpose of this first exploratory trip was to gain an understanding—acquired on the ground—of the different aspects of coffee farming: the varieties, the harvesting methods, the fermentation and drying processes, etc. During this trip, I travelled to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. In each of these countries, I visited several farms producing specialty coffee, in the hope of acquiring as much knowledge as possible and hopefully establish an initial purchasing relationship with a producer.

 

Today, I have the enormous privilege of once again finding myself at one of the farms that I had visited 10 years ago: the Canales farm. I had visited it at the time because one of their certified-organic micro-lots had won the Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence first prize—a first for an organic coffee. Since that time and according to the harvest, I have been buying micro-lots from Milton and others from his brother, Norman. Milton, the older brother, had welcomed me to his farm and to his home several times. 4 years ago, in return, I invited Milton to my home in Montréal to attend the opening of our café at the Jean-Talon Market. The idea that a coffee farmer could take part in this event and meet our customers was a dream that I had cherished for a long time.

 

Famille Canales en 2012

 

Famille Canales en 2019

 

For these past ten years, our respective companies and our personal lives have evolved side by side: Saint-Henri grew from a single café to 7, as well as a headquarters. The Canales family, meanwhile, acquired several new plots of land over the years, as well as new drying patios and—recently—all the equipment required to mill, sort, and bag their own coffee. Several children were also born and will probably get involved in the family business as well.

 

This year, the micro-lots that we have selected are superior to those from previous years. They are very sweet and have a nice juicy acidity that has not always been as present in the past. This result is partially explained by a longer ripening of the coffee cherries on the trees and by the newly installed nets above the beds, which slow the drying of the beans. Although I am happy with the harvest announced for 2019-2020, I am even prouder of the journey that we have taken together and of the fact that we have overcome the best years as well as the worst years. My company has also known years that have been tougher than others, and the Canales family has always been by our side, regardless of the fluctuations in the volumes that I could afford to buy from them.

 

 

The terms “direct trade” and “relationship coffee” are often used in the specialty coffee roaster scene, but there is still a lot of opacity in terms of traceability and the quality of the relationships between roasters and producers. I am very proud to have established such a long relationship and quality communication with Milton and Norman, while offering them beyond fair trade prices that allow us all to operate our businesses in a sustainable way. This is a foundation that serves as our internal model for our other coffee purchases and one that I hope will inspire others.

 

Jean-François Leduc, 
and the entire Saint-Henri team that makes this adventure possible.

¡ Y ahora sigamos adelante para otro 10 años !