History

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Santos Coffee – Who are we?
We are sisters.
Wendy and Katie – the owners of Santos Coffee and its cafes and farms. We are proud to offer you one of the first and only family-owned, “crop-to-cup” coffee experiences in the United States.
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We are Guatemalan-Americans.
We were born in Guatemala and raised on the very land that grows the coffee we serve today.

Santos Farms has been home to our family for several generations, since 1895. Our great-grandfathers, Jose Herrarte Sagastume and Faustino Padilla, had the insight to till these lands to generate the finest coffee plantations in Central America.

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We are landowners, coffee growers, and coffee roasters.
As children, we ran barefoot on the soils and splashed in the creeks. We played hide and seek in the coffee silos and learned how to roller-skate on the drying patios. We rode horses from one farm to the next. Before we were teens, we had learned to grow, grind, serve, and drink coffee.

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We are entrepreneurs…
To ensure our products are premium and your experience exceptional, we oversee the “crop-to-cup” process from the moment the seed goes into the ground, through the roasting and grinding stages, up to the details of the décor of Santos cafés. And we treasure every step of the way!
…like our grandmother and great-aunt before us.

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After all, there was point in the history of these farms where all was going to be lost, so we take nothing for granted.
The farms were saved… by two sisters: Marta and Piedad. Our grandmother and great-aunt.
Their father, Jose, was a remarkable businessman and an excellent farmer. He laid the foundation for the family’s future…until he didn’t.
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At first, his success allowed him to live in complete luxury. He and his wife raised seven girls – daughters, sisters, and nieces – on these lands, treating them like princesses. But with Jose’s wealth came an insatiable appetite for gambling and drink.




The farms were secretly going bankrupt.
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It was the 1930s, and Marta had moved to Chicago to pursue studies as a secretary – an “appropriate” occupation for young ladies in those times. She received a letter from Pia who explained the family’s dilemma and begged Marta to come back home to Guatemala.



Marta understood the seriousness of the matter.
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Not only would the family legacy be lost, but what would happen to the seven girls who lived on the farm? Where would they go? Marta wrote back:


Dear Pia,


…You cannot imagine how worried I am with respect to all you wrote in your letter…I am worried about all of your futures, knowing that you do not have a house to live when they take Margaritas…
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…You tell me to think about coming back at the end of the year to perhaps start a business with the little money I have. The more I think about it, the more I do not know what to do with the money. Yesterday I spoke with the Consul of Guatemala that is
here in Chicago, and he told me that coffee is going up $14. I hope this is true…
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…I want to help…could you not buy Margaritas? I assume that when they foreclose it they would sell it for cheap. What do you say about this?…



…Decide soon before this gets worse, and you all do not have anywhere to go. I will give you the little I have in the bank to help you… If there is a need to sell the cattle, see to it, and leave only two cows from my cattle for milk for the house…
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…Ok, don’t worry anymore. All happened because it had to happen. It is destiny. I hope that you spend your birthday in peace at the farm and that you are very happy…



Love, Marta


Marta did return to Guatemala and teamed up with Pia, and they took complete control of the farms.
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Together, they became the most incredible and well-respected coffee growers in the region.

In a time when women “didn’t do business,” it is said that Marta and Pia were known for their grit, loyalty, spirit, love of the land, and their integrity. Many people made deals with them on a handshake.
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