Bourbon, Caturra & Pache
Cooked apple, brown sugar, and nutmeg.
In the picturesque region of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, where coffee is not just a crop but a way of life, we find the dedicated smallholder producer, Guadalupe Bautista. The majority of the local economy in this region is intricately tied to coffee, making it a place where coffee traditions run deep.
Finca Alejandrina: Guadalupe's pride and joy, Finca Alejandrina, sprawls across 14 hectares of land, with over 13 of those dedicated to coffee cultivation. She tends to a diverse array of coffee varietals, including Bourbon, Catura, and the rare and intriguing Green and Red Pache.
Huehuetenango's Coffee Wonderland: Huehuetenango, nestled in western Guatemala along the Mexican border, is a realm of abundant yet extraordinary coffee. Its climate, altitude, plentiful water sources, and established varietals make it a hotspot for some of the finest coffees in Central America. From chocolatey volume offerings to fruit-forward microlots, Huehuetenango's coffee portfolio is as diverse as it is delicious.
Coffee a way of life: Guatemala's coffee sector reflects the country's rich cultural tapestry, representing more than 20 officially recognised indigenous groups. These groups share culture and tradition through coffee, with most farms intertwining with their community and neighbours in various ways. Farms in Guatemala generally operate in one of three ways. They may work independently, share ties through proximity and culture, or formalise their connections as part of cooperative associations. The National Coffee Institute Anacafé was born out of the efforts of coffee growers in 1960 and now serves as a research centre, marketing agent, and financial organisation, offering support and loans to growers across regions.
The washed process: The Washed process in Guatemala varies across regions due to diverse terroir and terrain. The primary distinction usually lies in the length of fermentation.
In the case of this beautiful coffee from Guadalupe, it begins with care. First, ripe cherries are handpicked and promptly de-pulped on the same day. Then, a patient 40-hour fermentation period follows before the beans are washed three times. This quick pick-to-wash turnaround, tightly controlled fermentation, and thorough triple wash ensure evenness, consistency and stability across the entire lot. Drying occurs on concrete patios and typically lasts 6-10 days, depending on weather, sun and humidity conditions.
The Pache Varietal: The Pache varietal was first discovered on a family-owned farm in Guatemala in 1949. It is a unique natural mutation of the beloved Bourbon varietal. Its unique character adds a layer of diversity to the Guatemalan coffee landscape and complexity to its clean and vibrant in-cup qualities.
Not all smooth sailing: In recent years, Guatemala faced a significant challenge with an outbreak of coffee-leaf rust, causing a state of emergency and reducing yields by up to 25%.
Farmers initiated a combination of chemical and organic treatments, targeted pruning, shade reduction, and replacing susceptible varietals with more rust-resistant ones. Anacafé was vital in this recovery and remains ever vigilant. In collaboration with World Coffee Research, they are actively researching and conducting varietal trials to safeguard against future outbreaks and ensure ongoing harvest protections for smallholder farmers.
Guadalupe Bautista's story and dedication sing through this honey-bodied, rich, sweet, and soul-warming little microlot.