Heading back to producing countries each year allows us to reconnect with both farmers and exporting partners on our travels, always teaching us something new in the process. During our recent trip to Central America, a visit to Guatemala was inevitable. A country so small, it makes up around 9% of all the coffee we buy each year, and they never disappoint.
Guatemala City was the first stop, where we cupped through many early harvest offer samples with the team at Primavera to get a feel for how the quality is this year. We've been buying Guatemalan coffees for seven years from them, so they know the sort of things we look for at the cupping table, and as ever some delicious coffees piqued our interest. Our favourite coffees in Guatemala unwaveringly come from Huehuetenango, so a trip north is a must. For the fifth year, we have secured coffee from the Los Altares microlot produced by José López, but have chosen to pursue other coffees too, all of which hail solely from Huehue.
The first to land is from a producer new to us, but who has in fact been growing coffee for 30 years. Juan Javier Cano and his family grow Caturra and Bourbon on their farm, Finca Las Rosas, and the lot we've secured is entirely comprised of the Caturra variety. They do three passes through the trees when the time to harvest the cherries arrives, rather than collect everything in one fell swoop. Being labour-intensive, it costs more, however, it means they can be more selective in picking just ripe coffee cherries. To refine the quality further, they undertake the extra stage of floating the cherries to skim off any floating, unripe fruit that was picked in error.
In our experience, it's unusual for small producers in Huehuetenango to ferment their coffee under water; the sugary mucilage is typically left to ferment in tanks open to the atmosphere. Juan Javier, however, submerges his depulped coffee in water for 30 hours to ferment slowly and in a much more controlled manner. This style of fermentation is definitely working wonders in Juan Javier's particular microclimate, and his varieties seem to be responding well as our first taste of Las Rosas presented an elegant, layered, impeccably clean, super-sweet coffee.
We're thoroughly enjoying the results achieved through his selective picking and slow, wet fermentation style and hope you enjoy this first release of the season from Central America. With plenty more delicious coffees lined up from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica to follow, it's going to be an exciting summer for us.
Golden raisins & toffee apple combine with gooseberry acidity in this layered cup. Sweet & moreish, the lingering finish hints at black grape & elderflower.