During our most recent trip to Guatemala with Primavera Coffee, the search for new and exciting coffees saw us head to both the Fraijanes and Huehuetenango growing regions that included a first meeting with Rodolfo & Reina Garcia at their family farm in Santa Ana La Montaña, Fraijanes.
Rodolfo started in coffee as a picker. Aged 25, inheriting a plot of land from his father, enabled him to start his own coffee farming business. The farm is named Finca La Pila, ‘Pila’ referring to the fermentation tanks that he is in the process of building at his house. Currently, due to the municipal water supply being often cut off, and the cost of water available from the Agua Vente trucks that visit the remote area, he is predominantly doing naturals and honey-processed coffee. Depulped using a bicycle-powered depulper, he dries in his parabolic shade covered greenhouse on raised beds. We were the first foreigners to visit his farm; something he quipped about hoping it would bring him luck this year!
Axel, Rodolfo’s son, showed us their wormery and offered us an African red worm as a snack; we politely declined his offer. Using the worms, they’re making compost from the coffee pulp, adding molasses and yeasts to speed up the degradation process, to feed their coffee trees.
It is reassuring to see Rodolfo and his family are reinvesting the income from coffee farming back into improving their production. Building more tanks, investing in new processing equipment and the purchase of another plot to grow more coffee.
Primavera purchase Rodolfo’s top lots that he processes himself as naturals and honeys, alongside communal lots of cherries from his neighbours’, the idea being to create a micro-regional blend. Our visit allowed Primavera to host a talk and discussion with local farmers about purchasing their coffee at a higher price, on the condition they separate the harvest into ‘Solo Maduro’ (‘Strictly Ripe’) and the other off-grades of under- and over-ripe cherries. Rodolfo received good prices from Primavera last year, and in the knowledge that 15 of his friends and their families in the neighbouring community also had good potential for quality, he has played a significant part in getting the scheme up and running.
A lack of water and infrastructure means Rodolfo's neighbours are unable to process and dry their coffee cherries to specialty standards. As such, the processing is done at Finca El Hato nearby, where the coffee cherries are depulped, fermented and washed before undergoing a crucial soaking stage ahead of drying. Rodolfo’s own plot is predominantly planted out with Yellow Catuaí, but his neighbours are cultivating other varieties, including Red Catuaí, Bourbon and Pache San Ramon. Expect a different profile to our Huehuetenango coffees which are typically winey, berry-like and super fruity. This coffee, from La Pila & Friends, is more chocolatey, with sweet cherries and toasted almond notes. Enjoy!
Santa Ana La Montaña, Fraijanes, Guatemala
In this rich and creamy espresso expect to find flavours of boozy cherries, praline and cocoa, leading to a sweet, lingering finish like chocolate ganache.