Roaster's tasting notes
Ripe Pineapple, Calvados Brandy, Honey Mead, Prune, Sweet Tobacco, Jammy, Balanced.
Guatemala boasts a variety of growing regions and conditions that produce spectacular coffees. Today, the country is revered as a producer of some of the most flavorful and nuanced cups worldwide.
The Guatemalan coffee industry experienced a major setback with the 2010 appearance of Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) in Latin America. The epidemic peaked in severity in 2012, and though CLR continues to affect some farms, Guatemala continues to produce high-quality, record-breaking coffees. In 2017, new and varied processing methods pushed prices at the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence contest to record highs.
The quality of coffee being produced in Guatemala is increasing, overall, due to the diversity of the industry’s producers. There are more and more smallholder farmers producing exceptional coffee at high altitudes. Cooperatives are becoming more appealing to so many smallholders because they often offer farmers financing and other support for improving their farming and processing and are frequently able to offer higher prices for cherry than middlemen. Many cooperatives have initiated quality improvement training for farmer members and are becoming more adept at helping members market their coffee as specialty.
Owner Ivan Ovalle is laser focused on producing high quality, ecologically-friendly coffees at his farm, Finca El Peñón in La Democracia, Huehuetenango.
Ovalle holds an engineering degree and has utilized his training to increase Finca El Peñón’s water efficiency and to ensure that workers pick only the ripest cherry with the highest sugar content. He’s used analyses of Brix degrees (sugar content) to find the optimal moment at which to pick cherry. Ovalle is meticulous about teaching workers to pick only ripe, red cherry at the exactly right moment.
Finca El Peñón is based on 75 hectares, 15 of which are devoted to forest reserves, while the remaining 60 hectares are planted with Caturra, Pache and Bourbon.
The farm is dedicated to protecting the environment from any adverse effects of coffee growing. Ovalle has been focused on reducing water usage year after year and working with various certification programs to improve the farm’s environmental and social impacts.
After selective handpicking, cherry is carefully sorted to select the best and ripest cherry using visual inspection and flotation. Cherry that passes Ovalle’s high standards is laid on patios to dry in direct sunlight.
Cherry is turned frequently, especially during the first 3 to 4 days. During this time, workers remove any damaged cherry to ensure only the highest quality cherry reaches the ensuing stages. Cherry that passes this quality control is then transferred to a greenhouse covered with plastic sheeting, where it will dry on raised beds for an additional 13 to 15 days. In total, harvested ripe cherry takes approximately 18 to 20 days to dry.
Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) specifies the altitude at which the coffee was grown. For Guatemala, a coffee must be grown at 1,200 meters above sea level or higher to be considered SHB. The higher altitude and lower temperatures mean that the coffee fruit matures more slowly, creating a denser bean.
EP stands for European Preparation. It means that green beans are sorted to check for defective beans or foreign material.
While Guatemala is generally recognised as a world-class producer of washed coffees, the microlot we present here was processed naturally. This means that the flesh of the cherry was left to dry naturally around the parchment, rather than being stripped off at the outset as is typical with the washed process. It is a labour-intensive processing method which requires understanding of the nuances required to produce naturals. Not every coffee region is able to produce coffees this way, but Ivan's desire to make the farm less reliant on water resources and to push quality at the same time has led to this absolutely stunning Bourbon microlot.
In the cup, expect a deep, sweet, jammy mouthfeel, complex with upfront notes of Calvados and Honey Mead. A sensational ripe pineapple riff becomes apparent as the cup cools, with a prune and sweet tobacco finish. Throughout, the coffee remains clean and transparent, a testament to the excellence of the cherry selection and attention to detail in the processing. A coffee that once tasted, you will keep coming back to again and again.
Sourced by 32Cup - now part of Sucafina.