The Coffee Trail: Exploring the Origins, and Meetings with Coffee Artisans in Guatemala

The Coffee Trail: Exploring the Origins, and Meetings with Coffee Artisans in Guatemala

Immediately after passing the border at Mesia in Chiapas, Mexico, we enter into this unmistakable micro-climate surrounding the tall steep mountains of the region that produces the coffee known as Huehuetenango. 

Encounter with Jacinto Gabriel Ruiz, a representative of the association Union de Pequeños Cafeicultores at Ciudad La Democracia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

Coffee production in this region is relatively recent (25 years), but after the meeting with Jacinto and a visit to producer Rodulfo de Jesus Castillo’s finca La Nueva Esperanza, we understand perfectly where coffee from the Huehuetenango region gets its reputation, and why it is so sought-after by roasters looking for coffees with aromas of fine complexity. 

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Second stop at Panajachel in Lago Atitlan, to go and meet Michael and Adèle Roberts of Crossroads Café.  Michael is an American from Georgia while Adèle comes from South Africa.  Michael, passionately inspired by coffee, began roasting 11 years ago.  He is a highly active person, and what’s most important to him is not technique, but the people behind the coffee.  There is a strong rapport between us, and he organizes a visit for us to the plantations at San Pedro with his coffee-roaster friend. 

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The environment is truly different in these coffee plantations.  The area dedicated to coffee is huge, divided into small lots of 1 or 2 hectares.  I noticed a lack of consistency in the maintenance of these tracts, probably due to the fact that every owner organizes himself differently. 

We end this exploration in Antigua, where we meet people from the organization De La Gente, who focus on improving living conditions for coffee producers, and who firmly believe that a healthy coffee economy depends on the well-being of the people who produce it. 

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We have the opportunity to sample coffees from producers who work with the organization.  The cup is a classic example of what you can expect from this region, the aromas of cocoa in the finish are typical of a volcanic soil.  We also tasted a coffee “au naturel” or “Honey” process, very interesting and delicate. 

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