Some friends invited my dad and I to join them on a quad ride a few weeks ago. Their plan was to visit a coffee plantation near the town of El Capomo, Nayarit, Mexico. We packed a small cooler, lubed up with suntan lotion, grabbed our sunglasses and cameras and we were ready for our afternoon adventure. George and Donna Steensma arrived in their quads promptly at 9:30am. We buckled up and drove to the La Peñita Trailer Park to meet up with Bob and Shirley Lewis. Within a few minutes, we were all heading north on the highway.
We pulled off at the entrance to El Tonino. From there, we left the smooth blacktop roads and cobblestone streets and endured winding trails and rugged terrain for the next 5 hours.
We arrived at a small coffee roasting plant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were two separate drying areas; one for fresh picked fruit called coffee cherries (above) and another for hulled beans (below). I lost track of time, but if I had to guess, it took us about 2 hours to get here from La Peñita.
Porfidio, the owner, explained the cleaning, hulling and drying process he uses. During the harvesting season, he hires 12-15 people to help him pick the cherries, and while he did sell a small bag of ground coffee to someone in our group, my understanding was that the majority of the coffee was grown for his own consumption (which is improbable unless he drinks 100 cups a day).
He uses this mechanical huller/pulper machine to remove the husks from the cherries. Once dried, the beans are roasted.
I did my best to translate all this information to the crew.
The small adobe buildings dotting the property were charming.
We thanked Porfidio, hopped back on the quads and away we went.
Into the jungle…
Through a babbling creek…
And right by these little piggies’ makeshift home.
The trails, vegetation and scenery changed in a blink of an eye.
About an hour later, Bob spotted some coffee plants lining the trail. We stopped to take a closer look and to eat lunch. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a pickup truck piled high with coffee bags drove by. A few minutes later, the driver returned and asked if we wanted to see his ranch. Of course we did; we were on an adventure!
Enrique showed us his small processing plant where he and his family pick, hull, ferment, sun dry and bag their coffee. He takes his bagged beans to Tepic, where it is exported and sold in the United States.
Enrique’s family didn’t seem to mind the fact that we interrupted their Sunday afternoon routine. I’m guessing they don’t get too many visitors here in this very remote ranch in the jungle.
It was getting late, so we headed back home.
Another friendly family along the way.
Making the boys eat a little dust!
We returned to Rincón de Guayabitos around 3pm, a few pounds heavier from all the sweat, dust and dirt we accumulated along the ride – and oh-so-ready for a long, hot shower and a cold beer. Thank you George, Donna, Bob and Shirley for letting us tag along.
P.S. A special thank you to George who enthusiastically agreed to attach my awesome newly-found steer head to the top of his quad (see photo #4) so it could hitch hike home!
If you ever get an opportunity to go quadding, say yes! Just be prepared to get really, really dirty. My dad joked that he had never seen his daughter so dirty; and while that may be true, I am glad that we documented this memorable Mexican moment!
If you enjoy Nayarit coffee, you can learn more in an article entitled Tour of Coffee Plantation in Mesillas.
by Allyson Williams
photos by Roger Williams
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