MEET OUR FARMERS
Our Meet Our Farmers series provides a glimpse into the history, legacy and dedication of the farming families whom we partner with. When you purchase San Francisco Bay Coffee, you are joining our efforts to improve the lives of our farmers and those in their communities around the world.
February 1, 2021
Finca San Francisco, Mexico
Rainer Boehme Winkler checking the progress of coffee beans drying in the Chiapas sun.
There is a saying that hard work can take you anywhere, and one of San Francisco Bay Coffee’s leading farmers, Rainer Boehme Winkler, is a perfect example of that. Rainer first came to Mexico from Germany in 1974, working for several companies as an agricultural engineer. He fell in love with the beauty and tranquility of the Chiapas, Mexico region and dreamed of one day owning his own coffee farm. While many Chiapas farms are run by descendants of original pioneering German families, Rainer is a very proud and accomplished first-generation farmer.
After years of working as an employee for others, Rainer was given the opportunity to purchase his first farm in 1987 – Finca San Francisco – which was just 75 acres of completely abandoned land. Despite the condition of the farm, he was captivated by the remarkable location and magnificent surroundings, and he envisioned both a place to develop the land and make a home for his family.
Rainer shares, “I started little by little, living and working on the farm around the clock, and utilizing Colombian and Costa Rican coffee farming techniques. I was involved in every aspect of daily farm life, performing the duties of truck driver, manager and foreman.” Within six years, Rainer’s hard work, passion and dedication resulted in Finca San Francisco achieving the best production yield throughout the region, and it has maintained that status ever since.
Rainer Boehme Winkler in his warehouse at Finca San Francisco.
With the growth and success of his first farm, Rainer was able to expand and buy more coffee plantations in 2011 and 2017. He and his wife María Ibbeth Cifuentes Sosa now have nearly 450 acres of Arabica plants and 250 acres of Robusta and Cacao varieties. Finca San Francisco supports 100 regular employees year-round, with an additional 400 employees during harvest time. All are provided their basic needs, including food, housing and school for the children.
Finca San Francisco’s farms are located in Southern Mexico, in the highlands of Tapachula, Chiapas at 4,500 feet above sea level, where some of the very best coffee produced in Mexico grows. The tropical climate is mild, the soil is rich and healthy, and the rolling green, mountainous landscape that is sometimes shrouded in mist and clouds extends as far as the eye can see.
Rainer Boehme Winkler with wife María Ibbeth Cifuentes Sosa on their plantation in Chiapas, Mexico.
Harvest at Finca San Francisco will be wrapping up this month, with pruning and the flowering season coming next. Rainer uses a block pruning approach to control pest invasion and completes four applications of fertilizer throughout the year. It’s Rainer’s primary goal to eventually change the entire plantation to varieties that are fully resistant to coffee leaf rust. He only harvests mature beans and uses special machinery from Brazil to sort and separate the highest-grade, premium beans. Finca San Francisco has also attained Rainforest Alliance Certification on a section of one of their farms called Fulda, recognizing their exceptional efforts to support social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Four varieties of coffee are grown for San Francisco Bay Coffee, including Catuai, Caturra, Sarchimor and Obata. Finca San Francisco’s relationship with San Francisco Bay Coffee began in 2014, and the support Rainer has received has been instrumental. He explains, “Without San Francisco Bay Coffee’s help, it would be impossible to maintain the farms, pay salaries, provide benefits and comply with the labor laws in Mexico.” While many coffee farms are struggling with increasing costs, plant disease and an inability to increase production, Rainer says, “Thanks to San Francisco Bay Coffee, we are still alive in the coffee business, and many families depend on it to survive, have jobs and have a better quality of life. We are happy to maintain an excellent working relationship based on respect and honesty.”
In addition to skilled coffee production, Finca San Francisco is also home to an extensive flower farm, with several large greenhouse nurseries filled with exotic flowers including anthuriums, orchids, birds of paradise and other tropical plants that are grown, cut, packed and shipped worldwide.
Rainer and Ibbet have further expanded their family business by recently opening an upscale boutique hotel at Finca San Francisco where visitors can rest and observe life on the small, beautiful coffee farm in the heart of the Chiapas rainforest. The modern yet rustic property consists of charmingly decorated rooms that each inspire and reflect a part of Rainer and Ibbet’s Finca San Francisco story. There is also a small infinity pool, spa and a gourmet restaurant featuring recipes that blend local Mexican ingredients with a German touch. All of these spaces are perched high above the endless tree-covered valleys and offer majestic views in all directions. After trekking though the coffee plantations and touring the greenhouses, guests can take a guided tour to learn about all the steps involved in coffee processing on the farm, from optimizing the environment, to picking the cherries, to roasting the beans and ultimately tasting the final product.
Photos of San Francisco Hotelito Boutique located 1 hour and 45 minutes from the City of Tapachula, Chiapas, México.
Hard work speaks for itself, and San Francisco Bay Coffee is proud to support the exemplary efforts of Rainer Boehme and share the outstanding coffee produced by Finca San Francisco.
Coffees With Beans From Finca San Francisco