Drink Direct

The story of Café Palmira and a recipe for cooking with coffee

Carlos Palacio serves a coffee from his booth at the Mill City Farmers Market. Submitted photo

For the past four generations, Carlos Palacio’s family has been growing and harvesting coffee in Huehuetenango, Guatemala — a region renowned for growing some of the world’s finest Arabica coffee.

In 2000 and 2001, coffee prices crashed because of issues in the larger supply chain. This had an enormous impact on the livelihoods of coffee farmers throughout Guatemala. Many farmers began selling their land in order to support their families.

Despite the hardship, the Palacios family continued to grow and harvest coffee, even though the prices declined significantly.

Around this time, Carlos met his wife Katie when she, originally from Minnesota, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. She spent a significant amount of time working on the Palacio’s coffee farm and talking with the family about trying to export the coffee directly to the United States instead of using a “middle-man” export company.

Café Palmira’s beans are sourced from Guatemala. Submitted photo
Café Palmira’s beans are sourced from Guatemala. Submitted photo

In 2004, Katie and Carlos first started selling coffee, bringing it to the United States in their suitcases and selling the coffee to friends and family. Everyone loved the coffee, and, in 2007, Katie and Carlos started their small business, Café Palmira.

They began selling Café Palmira coffee at farmers markets in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including the Mill City Farmers Market. The green beans of Café Palmira are now shipped directly from Guatemala to Minnesota and roasted to perfection weekly by UP Coffee Roasters in Minneapolis.

Café Palmira is not certified fair trade, but you can still feel great about purchasing Café Palmira, as it comes directly from the Palacios family farm, eliminating the middle-man.

Café Palmira is handpicked and shade-grown at approximately 1,500 meters, ideal conditions for producing the best coffee, according to traditional Mayan traditions. Shade-grown coffee creates more biodiversity and bird habitat with less need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This practice prevents deforestation and does not disturb existing wildlife.

Carlos spends his winters with his family, working on the farm in Guatemala, but the coffee beans are available at the Mill City Farmers Market’s indoor winter markets. The next indoor winter market is on 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Feb. 11 inside the Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St.

In this recipe, salmon gets a coffee-spiked spice rub. Submitted photo
In this recipe, salmon gets a coffee-spiked spice rub. Submitted photo

Coffee-spiced salmon

Recipe courtesy of Mill City Farmers Market


1 teaspoon fresh coffee grounds from Café Palmira

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

½ teaspoon cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon grated orange zest

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

12 ounces wild-caught Alaskan salmon

2-3 cups seasonal vegetables, optional side dish


Mix all of the spices together and rub 1 ½ teaspoons of the spice mix into the flesh side the salmon. Leftover spice rub can be stored in a small jar or other air-tight container. Let the rub sit for 30 minutes up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Bake the salmon skin side down at 375 degrees (or grill on medium-high heat) for 10–15 minutes, depending on its thickness.

Serve the salmon with seasonal roasted vegetables. In winter, we suggest a combination of chopped potatoes, onions, beets and carrots tossed in oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Serves 2