We are excited to release this wonderful and complex coffee featuring all of the best from Guatemala in one cup: flavor notes of sweet caramel, apricot, and baking spice in the finish.
Mike's initial Cupping Notes:
Our new Guatemala is the result of my first trip to origin post Covid restrictions. I met and cupped with Christian, one of the main producers and millers in Guatemala. We cupped many, many coffees and had two favorites. We experimented and created a wonderful blend highlighting the body and notes of honey, fig, and caramel from Chimaltenango with the floral orange citrus and cherry fruit notes from Rio Azul in Huehuetenango. With Guatemala Huehuetenango Rio Azul SHB EP’s focus on high altitude and clean processing, this SHB EP regional blend has all of the attributes we love about a coffee from Huehuetenango—vivid acidity and prominent fruit and floral notes.
Huehuetenango is well-known for its high altitudes and consistent weather patterns, which are perfect for producing the sparkling acidity and distinctive fruit flavors of the region . The microclimate is unique: the region lies at an intersection of hot air sweeping eastwards from the Plains of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico and cool air rushing down from the Cuchumatanes Mountains. This meeting of hot and cold air keeps frost in check and enables coffee cultivation at the high altitude of 1900-2000 masl.
Due to its remoteness in one of Guatemala’s three non-volcanic regions, most producers in Huehuetenango process their own coffee. Luckily, an abundance of streams and rivers in the region make fully washed coffees easier to process. Farmers selectively hand pick coffee cherries and pulp it on their farms, typically using small hand-powered or electric drum pulpers.
After fermenting, parchment is agitated to remove remaining mucilage, and washed with clean water. All water used during pulping and washing is filtered so that organic solids do not contaminate local waterways. Typically, farmers lay parchment to dry on raised beds that are stacked on top of each other to maximize space.
Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) specifies that altitude at which coffee is grown. A coffee must be grown at at least 1,200 masl to be considered SHB. Higher altitude and lower temperatures mean that the coffee cherry matures more slowly, creating a denser bean. EP stands for European Preparation. EP beans are Screen 15+ with a low defect tolerance.
About Guatemalan Coffee:
Guatemala boasts a variety of growing regions and conditions that produce spectacular coffees. Today, the country is revered as a producer of some of the most flavorful and nuanced cups worldwide.
We are proud to work with several exceptional in-country partners to bring these coffees to market. The quality of coffee produced in Guatemala is increasing, overall, due to the diversity of the industry’s producers.
Cooperatives in Guatemala:
Cooperatives are becoming more appealing to many smallholder farmers because they often offer farmers financing and other support for improving their farming and processing, and are often able to offer higher prices for the coffee cherry than middlemen. Many cooperatives have initiated quality improvement training for farmer members and are becoming more adept at helping members market their coffee as specialty.
History of Guatemalan Coffee:
Although coffee was brought over from the Caribbean in the mid-18th century by Jesuit priests, it was used primarily as an ornamental plant and garden crop for 100 years in Guatemala. Coffee wasn’t widely traded, however, until commercial production began in the 1850s. The volcanic soil and various micro-climates proved ideal for growing coffee in Guatemala. Coffee, within a generation, became the country’s most important crop. In 1860, Guatemala exported 140,000 pounds of coffee, and just 25 years later, the country was exporting over 40 million pounds. Large numbers of coffee farmers were German immigrants responsible for many inventions and innovations related to coffee milling. Most of Guatemala’s coffee was exported to Germany until the First World War, when exports shifted to the United States.