Cacao, Almonds, Red Berries, Black Tea, Silky
The inception of Finca la Senda, now run by Arnoldo Pérez Melendez and his wife Maria Eugenia Escobar, dates back to the forties when Arnoldo’s father pioneered the plantation of coffee in the surroundings of the Aldea el Socorro in Acatenango. The Finca extends from the borders of the village up to mount Balàm, the hill of the Jaguar in the native language. Coffee is planted at an altitude between 1550 and 1970 meters. Coffee is harvested on an extension of broadly 27 hectares.
Arnoldo has spent his entire life in coffee, a beloved product that supported his family as well as many families in Aldea el Socorro, given that all of his employees (14 throughout the year, ca. 70 during harvest) are local villagers.
Over the last few decades, Arnoldo’s focus had been on efficient farming, rather than excellent cup quality, with the coffee being delivered to the local cooperative. This long-dated model took an exciting turn in 2017 when the Sendero Team - who sourced this fantastic lot - visited Arnoldo and his farm. Their blind-tasting of many of the coffees in the region pointed to the potential of the farm’s cherries. The subsequent discussion gave the ignition light that motivated Arnoldo to build his own “beneficio” (coffee processing plant), with constructions initiated in April 2017 and completed over the course of six months, right in time for the start of the harvest.
While being late starters, Arnoldo and his family combined their deep knowledge in the agricultural space with best practices in processing, learned and developed with the strong support of his friends and partners. In its first year of own processing, Finca la Senda focused its efforts on consistent cherry selection, long and controlled fermentations as well as slow shadow-drying.
The varieties cultivated at the Finca include Caturra (ca. 65%), Bourbon (ca. 25%) and Pache (ca. 10%), all harvested between late November and April.
Good nutrition, volcanic soil (the “Volcan de Fuego” sits about 15 km from the farm) and a supportive climate provide for an ideal terroir, as confirmed by the consistent results of local farms at the Guatemala Cup of Excellence.
Apart from the common profiles of the region, characterized by sweet flavours of stone fruit, citrus, bright acidity and good body, the Sendero team observed that Finca La Senda’s prolonged fermentations and experimental processes emphasized these characteristics and significantly increased complexity. Whereas the region-typical flavours are still present, they also found an increase in exotic flavours such as grapes, berries, jasmine, tamarind, blackcurrant and ripe or tropical fruits, depending on the process (and variety). They further noticed that the increase in these acidities improved the perception of sweetness and lead to pleasant juiciness.
Thanks to the sourcing efforts of the Sendero team, we are delighted to present this unusual 100% Pache microlot, grown on specific plots of land on the Finca called Nisperales and Patzizalan respectively. Farms in Guatemala usually blend Pache with Caturra and other varietals - but here we can experience this varietal in all its glory. Combined with an equally unusual "Hidro-Natural" process, we have the body usually associated with naturals, but a clean cup profile typical of washed lots. In the Hidro-Natural process, ripe rested cherries are dried for 20 hours under the sun to encourage embryonic fermentation, then soaked to separate qualities, followed by 28 days of drying in the shade, so the fruit is not removed off the cherries during the initial stages of processing.
An extremely popular choice on batch brew in the shop - this lot has all your classical coffee flavours nailed, but with finesse, and a delicious subtle fruity acidity to lift your palette and sense of satisfaction. Think of fine dark chocolate, studded with toasty skin-on almonds and a black tea type body complimented by a touch of young red berries and green apples. Perfect for that first cup of the day, or after mealtimes.
Special thanks to Pira Balasingham at Sendero for putting us in touch with this lot.