Notes from Guatemala

August 21, 2020

Notes from Guatemala

This year in Guatemala I focused on finding micro-lots from our farm partners; Rosma and la Maravilla. It’s the cumulation of a slow process of dialing in on the massive amount of great coffees throughout Huehuetenango, one of my favorite areas in the world. Four years ago I bought a range of coffees from different regions. Three years ago it was regional blends for within Huehuetenango. Two years ago we purchased specifically from Rosma and la Maravilla. And this year I worked through even more lots from each farm to select micro-lots.

“Micro-lot” is a vague term, one that gets bandied about a lot to imply quality or traceability. But for me, “Micro-lot” is less of an end product and more of a process. The term most accurately refers to the individual evaluation of each delivery of coffee from a farm. Every day each area of the farm that got picked is cupped individually, some lots get blended and the exceptionally good picks are separated out to command a higher price. This process is foundational to specialty farming because it helps farmers begin to understand what creates, or diminishes, quality on different areas of the farm. It’s the cornerstone of visibility!

From Maravilla I selected a lot from an area called el Mezcal. It refers to a very large Mezcal tree that designates the boundary of this high grown plot of bourbon variety. The hike up to this area of the farm was intense and required both climbing up, and hanging onto, narrow rock ledges overlooking huge drops into the valley below. But hikes like this reinforce the crazy amount of work that goes into harvesting coffee in these very steep regions. We weren’t carrying 100 pounds of coffee cherries on our back. El Mezcal pushes the huge amount of chocolate flavor that we love from Mauricios’ coffees. One of the most chocolate forward coffees we’ve had!

From Rosma I selected two extraordinary lots from el Plan and la Loma. These are also very high sections of the farm where Typica and very old Bourbon has been growing for years. We hiked down from the ridge this farm balances on and around the rim of the mountain to find these shaded flat areas which are close to each other. These coffees have that typical base of cocoa, but are also floral and full of tropical fruit notes! Fredy and Alejandro have been making a lot of improvements in the fermentation process. This year they added a series of pipes that allow oxygen to flow in and through the coffee as it ferments. It’s hard to tell what’s making the difference, but every year they have better coffee than the previous year so multiple things are working out!