In an effort to expand our offerings in Guatemala, I went down there this past March to do a little discovery. I remember the moment precisely – we’ve all had an experience like this on the cupping table – where one sample just pops. This coffee was totally unlike the others: big and juicy with flavors of nectarine, tropical fruit like pineapple and mango, and subtle floral notes. What made it remarkable was not only those beautiful, crisp flavors but how incredibly sweet it was. An easy 88 point coffee. “What is this and are there any more like it?!” I couldn’t have been more excited. It turned out to be a coffee grown by Edgar Sanchez in Santa Barbara, Huehuetenango. I tasted a few more Santa Barbara coffees and they all had that distinct ripe peach nectar-like profile. I was completely blown away and needed to find out more.
We then went out to visit Edgar’s farm. He has Bourbon, Typica and Pache (a Typica mutation) growing in heavy clay soil along a steep, east-facing slope at elevations up to 2050 masl. Processing is rustic: the coffee is manually de-pulped before being fermented in a wooden tank for 10-12 hours. It is then scrubbed in channels to remove the remaining mucilage and laid out to dry on a small patio adjoining his traditional house. Despite the high altitude sun, drying is slowed due to the shade provided by both his house and the steep hills surrounding it, as well as the cool nights. Not only is this a beautiful coffee, but it is stable – we measured it at .52aW @ 20.4c and 10.2%. Amazing.
Edgar’s farm is typical for Santa Barbara, one of the lowest income municipalities in Huehuetenango. Most producers there grow less than one hectare of coffee which is often bought by coyotes, due in a large part to the difficulty of bringing in coffee from the farm to the receiving stations which can be an hour or two by car, if one is even available. These are then blended with coffees from various other municipalities into large generic ‘Huehuetenango’ lots. We are excited to separate these gems and to have the opportunity to offer them to you.
There are several coffees from Santa Barbara now in the warehouse, including a few single producer lots, bulked village level lots with all the complexity that brings, as well as a larger, 32 bag Santa Barbara lot encompassing a few villages.
One more thing about our Huehuetenango offerings before I let you go. While down there we found a value we just couldn’t pass up: two larger lots from a single estate, Los Arroyos in La Libertad. Clean, sweet and bright, this is a coffee you can drink all day long on its own or use to round out your blends. We’re really psyched to have expanded our sourcing work in Guatemala this year and to be able to offer these coffees, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or sample and booking requests.