Guatemala Finca El Pintado + Water Avenue Coffee + EcoFiltro

Finca El Pintado is a 400-year-old historic farm located next to the Panorama neighborhood of Antigua Guatemala. They first started producing coffee in the 1940’s and for many years El Pintado was the only Organic certified farm in the region and was a pioneer in organic agriculture.

“We decided to become organic when we realized the harm chemicals used on traditional coffee farms were having on the people that sprayed them on the plants and the environment that was absorbing them. We knew becoming organic was going to involve a lot of hard work and risk but we knew it was the right decision to make for our coworkers, mother nature and the consumers that drink our coffee every day.” explains Philip Wilson Arzu.

I first visited El Pintado 4 harvests ago. As we walked thru the farm and I could see the excitement in the groups eyes as we wandered into a structure full of long cement tanks, shaded by a corrugated metal roof. Pul ing back tarps, I was surprised to find that they have a massive worm farm on the estate with 50 million worms, actively producing wonderful fertilizer to nurture their plants, as well as other farms in need. “We believe in over fertilizing organically to keep the plant strong in order to protect itself from pests and other threats to its health and livelihood”, says Wilson. “We also spray the plants in the early morning, when the pores of the leaves of the plants are open, with the liquids produced by our worms.”

El Pintado is an ecological mill where they recycle the water used in processing and treat the water naturally before sending it back into the ground.

The structure of this farm is unique in its design. The canopy is composed of many different types of native shade trees that create a forest-like environment. The farm features 10 hectares of the Borbón variety with many of the plants being over 100 years old. There are also other interesting varieties growing such as Geisha.

Philip Wilson, being a true innovator, also spends a lot of time on his impact business called Ecofiltro whose immediate mission is to bring clean water sustainably to 1M rural families in Guatemala by the year 2025. The filtering unit is produced from 3 natural materials, clay, sawdust and colloidal silver. These materials work together to clean bacteria and micro-organisms, which cause infections and diseases, from water enabling you to enjoy fresh clean
water and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

I’ve been travel ing to Guatemala every year for over 12 years and have watched first-hand how the EcoFiltro has truly revolutionized safe drinking water all over the country. While EcoFiltro was started over 20 years ago, and has operated as a non-profit for most of it’s history, as Executive Director Philip has truly accelerated their mission and growth plan, realizing that the water problem could not be solved simply on donations. Their mission: to benefit 1 million Guatemalan families in rural areas by the year 2025.

They exclusively use sustainable methods to achieve this goal and are always ready to share their production processes and marketing strategies with any external group that is interested in solving the water challenge in their country.

Visiting this year, our VP of Sales Heather Kelley and I got to tour their facility and learn first-hand how Philip has decided to turn EcoFiltro into an impact company, a “social business”, which focuses on a hybrid approach to water in taking sales in urban areas while reducing the price of filters for families in rural areas. Philip has just returned from a social enterprise conference, and we learned that they’ve essentially open sourced the technology behind EcoFiltro and it’s being used in over 40 other countries to help with the water crisis.

Thru their School Program Goals, which Water Avenue Coffee supports, they distribute drinking water to identifies rural school in Guatemala. Donations and a portion of each filter purchased go towards filters being delivered to rural schools. They also involve parents in the EcoFiltro “water for life” program so that children have access to pure water both in their schools and at home. They offer families a payment plan and education on pure water filtration to empower those with knowledge of the benefits of drinking clean water.

We learned that many families currently burn wood to boil water, which they often must purchase, and the EcoFiltro not only saves resources, but has a large carbon offset for the environment, eliminating trees from being cut down and burned into the atmosphere.

It was so inspiring to hear how Philip has set up his business, creating an environment that empowers his employees to share in profits as well as in ideas of how to grow the company, and operate efficiently. I’ve come to realize that every trip to Guatemala is such an inspiring adventure, the people, the coffee of course, the innovation and the compassion truly move me... and our relationship with Finca El Pintado and EcoFiltro is a culmination of an authentic partnership and relationship, beyond the delicious coffee in your cup. Though if you want El Pintado in your cup, you can find it here