Back in February during our travels to Guatemala we had the pleasure of meeting Guillermo Antonio Juárez. There are many famed coffee growing regions in Guatemala, with unique flavour profiles, but Guillermo’s farm, Finca El Guatalon, is situated in a lesser known area, just South of Palencia in the Santa Rosa Department. The scenery here is truly beautiful with an abundance of pine trees leaving deep piles of needles on the steep slopes of farms, making it a fun but treacherous walk down.
This year a countrywide drought unfortunately saw many farmers experience a dip in their production volumes. When drought strikes the plants focus their energy on root growth in search of more water, rather than cherry development and maturation. To combat this threat Guillermo is working on constructing terraces whilst also leaving weeds and dry matter amongst the trees to try to lock more water in the soil.
We’ve bought coffee from Finca El Guatalon for a few years, this year taking lots from both the San Ramon and the La Loma sections of the estate. We have already roasted, brewed and enjoyed the small amount of Yellow Catuaí from the La Loma microlot, and are now releasing the Pache Verde fruit grown on the San Ramon lot. The 111 hectare farm was bought by Guillermo’s great-grandfather, and has since been passed on and shared amongst Guillermo and his 6 siblings. Most of the farm is a dedicated nature reserve, with some areas growing avocados or timber, with just 16 hectares planted with coffee, including the varieties Villa Sarchi, Bourbon, Pacas, Pache and Pacamara.
Guillermo is very different to a lot of the other farmers in the area. Whilst they may also be growing coffee in a similar landscape, a lot of the time it is one of many crops they tend to and solely used as quick cash, with no real attention being paid to the coffee trees or the processing. In contrast, Guillermo knows what different needs the multiple varieties he farms require, paying attention to pruning, planting shade trees and demanding that only ripe cherry be harvested. He is also quite particular about the processing and drying of his coffees. After around 14 days of slowly sun-drying on patios, being heaped up and covered over during the cold nights, the coffee is bagged up but not sealed and left in a dark and well ventilated warehouse for around three months before milling. This ‘Reposado’ phase is a little unusual, but Guillermo and his son Willy maintain that during this period the coffee relaxes, takes on a wonderful deep jade green hue, and is conditioned in such a way that it tastes fresh for longer than rushing the freshly dried coffee to the mill. We’re firm advocates that good food and good coffee requires time, and this is one such example.
Santa Rosa, Guatemala
A jammy and sticky body carries aromas of dark berries and chocolate cake. Flavours of walnut and fig linger in the finish.