Marta always knew that her life was going to be about coffee. Hardly surprising, given her family has been in coffee for 171 years through six generations of coffee farmers in Central America. Marta’s grandmother, Marie Josephine Del’Pech, took over her family’s coffee farms in her early twenties, and was the largest producer of coffee in El Salvador. Marta’s mother and father lived on neighbouring farms as children, eventually getting married and running the farms before moving to the USA when the civil war started in El Salvador. Marta’s great-grandmother worked her farm until she was 95 years old, winning two first place Cup of Excellence awards in Guatemala. Now, Marta’s mother, Colomba, is her partner in Coffee Bird.
It is clear from the way that Marta talks about these inspiring women that they imparted to her not only a deep love for Central America, but a passion for making things better for coffee farmers. Marta’s grandmother’s story had a particular impact. Her farms were repatriated and in the middle of the night her grandmother had to abandon her farms. The military took possession of all her assets, and eventually the land was turned into cooperatives. The impact this had on her family, had Marta thinking there must be a better way. When Marta later visited the farms, people had little work, the co-op was up for sale as a string of internal corruption had created a large debt. There were no job opportunities, and public services to support the farmers (such as hospitals) were lacking. This further fuelled Marta’s desire to continue to help coffee farmers achieve a better way of life.
Having witnessed the impact of her grandmother’ experience, Marta also wanted to study finance, and knew that building a network of people around the world and understanding of how large organisations worked would serve her well when she did ultimately find her place in the world of coffee. So Marta completed her postgraduate degree and was a partner for a large firm in the City for many years. After witnessing a road accident in 2011, Marta had her ‘lightbulb’ moment, and left the city to return to coffee.
It is Marta and her mother’s unique combination of skill and heart which has allowed them to successfully build Coffee Bird.
Today, they are continuing to expand their relationships and are always looking for new opportunities to work with like minded people. One example of this is Pacayal, a small farm that Marta, Paul and Courtney visited, and which they describe as “magical”. The owner of that coffee farm, Fernando, encapsulates everything that Coffee Bird is trying to accomplish – a commitment to quality through organic fertilisation, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a willingness to get better every day. Pacayal is a new relationship for Coffee Bird, and Marta and Fernando are working together to continue to improve the quality of Pacayal’s product.