Ye Dusty Olde Sweet Maria's Coffee Review Archive
2012-present -
2008-2011 -
2007 -
2005 -2006 -
2003 -2004 -
2001-2002 -
Pre-2000 -
Our Current Review Pages:


You are browsing the 2008-2011 Archived Reviews

Guatemala

  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Red Bourbon

Finca Retana is a very traditional farm in central Antigua situated at 1550 meters on the valley floor, and they have a small portion planted in Yellow Bourbon cultivar, which we offered earlier this year. This is their Red Bourbon coffee. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it, now called Reunion. Bourbon coffees tend to ripen earlier than other cultivars, and have a very balanced flavor profile with moderate acidity when cupped with other types planted in the same plot. They seem to have good bean density, and the plant is not stressed to overproduce fruit, unlike some of the modern Catimor hybrids as well as other types. Bourbon trees can remain productive for many years with good care.

The dry fragrance has caramel and cocoa (or rather, it reminds me a boit of Ovaltine!) There's modest fruit and citrus hints as well, which come out clearly in the wet aroma. The cup has a restrained flavor profile, typical for Antigua coffees as well as Bourbon cultivar. It's exceptionally clean, with a well-integrated acidic snap that gives the coffee a well-structured character overall. Mild citrus brightness and sweet orange aroma yields to an almond and malt roast taste. It finishes with toffee-like roast sweetness. It's a very refined cup, approachable, with much revealed as it cools. It's also just a great sippin' coffee. It roasts very well at darker levels as it does at light, remaining very compact and tightly closed in the crease. It's a versatile cup, a classic Antigua flavor profile, and also an interesting SO espresso.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival -GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/ Sweet, lightly fruited and classic Antigua cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal here. But it's a versatile coffee and roasts well from light to darker levels.
Compare to: Classic Antigua coffee. We pulled some nice SO espresso shots from this coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua -Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon

We are happy to have Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon again after a couple years hiatus. This is a very traditional farm in central Antigua situated at 1550 meters on the valley floor, and they have a small portion planted in Yellow Bourbon cultivar. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it, now called Reunion. Yellow Bourbon is a sub-type that has fruit which ripens to a yellow color. (It is possible that Yellow Bourbon is a natural mutation of a cross between Bourbon and a yellow-fruited Typica called "Amarelo de Botocatu"). There are some differences between red and yellow Bourbon types in the cup, and I have noted that on the tree, Yellow Bourbon cherries can be incredibly sweet when ripe, measuring near 26 Brix on my refractometer for sugar content. That's nearly the sugar levels of sugar cane!

In the cup they are classic and balanced coffees, sweet and rounded in flavor profile. The dry fragrance has butter cookie and caramel tones with a very slight wildflower aspect at City+ roast. It opens up a bit in the wet aroma, more floral sweetness, nectar, restrained stone fruit. The aromatics translate well into the cup flavors. Stone fruit sweetness, a peach-apricot jam note, prevail in the City+ roasts of this coffee, pairing well with the juicy mouthfeel. Slightly darker roasts have a tannic, almondy flavor that emerges, with a bittersweet dryness in the finish. In fact this coffee has an interesting sweet-bittersweet complexity throughout the roast range, a soft-yet-bracing duality that gives it some complexity and "structure." It roasts very well at darker levels as it does at light, remaining very compact and tightly closed in the crease. It's a versatile cup, a classic Antigua flavor profile, and also an interesting SO espresso to boot!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Clumps of Yellow Bourbon coffee at Finca Retana.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Yellow Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/ Sweet, lightly fruited and classic Antigua cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal here. But it's a versatile coffee and roasts well from light to darker levels.
Compare to: Classic Antigua coffee. We pulled some nice SO espresso shots from this coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Esmeralda Yellow Bourbon READY

This is a Yellow Bourbon lot from a farm in San Martin Jilotepeque called Finca La Esmeralda that we have been so pleased with in the past 2 years, we are paying a hefty premium to the farmer, Benjamin Estrada. What is Yellow Bourbon? It is a variant of the usual red Bourbon type, a classic old varietal that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), and named for the royal family of France at the time. This type ripens to a yellow color, and seems to have different cup properties. The cherries themselves measure very high sugar values when ripe, but present the problem of being more difficult to pick. A yellow ripe cherry looks quite a lot similar to a partially ripe one. So you need experienced pickers and good quality control to produce a good Yellow Bourbon coffee. The coffee is shade grown and at an altitude of 1600-1650 meters above sea level. It's an ideal coffee for high altitude cultivation, and results in dense physical structure of the coffee seed. This is great for roasting, as it promotes even heat transfer, and less damage to the bean structure. Bourbon coffees tend to have a "classic" Central American cup profile. The farm size is about 11 hectares planted in coffee, 2 of which are planted with yellow bourbon.

I noticed the beautiful green appearance of this coffee, and how nicely it roasted. It has a compact form, and progresses very nicely in the roast process. I cupped this on a table with many other Guatemala coffees and the crisp, clear brightness jumped out immediately. The dry fragrance at City + roast has cocoa powder, honey, and almond essence. Adding hot water, the aroma has a floral rose-like scent with maple syrup sweetness, and honey-nut cereal. The cup has a brilliant acidity (brightness), clean almond hazelnut roast tone and Dutch cocoa in the finish. The sweetness is simply stunning, and has a cane sugar flavor, and the bright notes keep the cup lively as the temperature dips. As it cools the body seems syrupy, and this pairs well with the sweetness and slightly nutty roast tones. A cane sugar sweetness reverberates through the long aftertaste. It's a classic Central coffee from a classic cultivar. Roast appearance suggests a very dense coffee, with little expansion in the crease, and no cracks in the ends. I haven't roasted to FC for espresso yet, but the potential for a great shot is definitely there if the acidic brightness can be restrained a bit.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Benjamin Estrada inspects a new plant, at Finca Esmeralda
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Martin Jilotepeque
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Bright, very sweetm crisp, clean cup, balanced.
Roast: City+ to Full City is recommended, but the fact is this coffee takes a wide range of roasts and performs well no matter what
Compare to: Has some similarities to the highest grown Bourbon coffees of El Salvador, but more sweetness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Florencia

La Florencia is classified being in the Fraijanes coffee growing region, but more specifically it is on the fringe of this zone in Santa Elena Barrias. It is perched high above Lake Amatitlan, with stunning views of the volcanos that ring the lake. Much of Fraijanes is becoming suburbs of the capital, and coffee farms are becoming subdivided for housing. Still, the coffee tradition runs deep here, and some farms grow, harvest and mill their coffee as their grandparents (and oftentimes as the grandparent's grandparents) did long ago. La Florencia is a 6th generation farm in the same family. Much of Florencia features Bourbon seedstock, the type that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), named for the royal family of France at the time. The other primary type of coffee is Caturra, which is actually a cultivated offspring of Bourbon. In the past we have offered cultivar separations of one or the other type from Florencia, but this year it is an estate blend of the two, for little other reason than that is what we were offered by Gerardo Flores, the owner.

The dry fragrance at City+ roast has nut, maple and toffee, with a sweet maple granola scent at City roast. A little darker and the fragrance reminds me of malted milk balls. In the wet aromatics, it's a sweet and straightforward nut and chocolate scent, classic Guatemala in character. This cup also displays this classic, balanced character. I can see myself enjoying it without much thought except "wow, that's a nice coffee!" It's definitely a crowd-pleaser and does well under a very wide range of roasts. As suggested by the aromatics, milk chocolate, nut and caramel-maple are the prime attributes. The coffee strikes a nice balance between sweet and bittersweet, as initial caramelized sugar notes fade to pleasantly bittering chocolate and almond skins. When the coffee was fresher (12 hours rest after roasting) the finish had a black tea tannic quality. The body is opaque, thick, especially at FC roast level. Darker roasts finish with aromatic wood hints, traces of walnut. Florencia does quite well as SO espresso, displaying dense body, chocolate-caramel roast flavor, and a surprising zesty lemon-laced brightness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Gerardo Flores at Finca La Florencia, from my last trip there.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Caturra and Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Bourbon cultivar character, balance, dense body
Roast: Full City roast is ideal, but in reality this coffee is very forgiving in the roaster, accepting a wide latitude of roast levels.
Compare to: Some similarities to the highest grown Bourbon coffees of El Salvador, but with more sweetness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Bourbon -Finca San Diego Buena Vista

Acatenango is one of the under appreciated growing regions of Guatemala. It has always been overshadowed by nearby Antigua, and in fact many Acatenango coffees were sold as Antigua lots for many years. In mill-mark Antiguas, this is still the case, since farmers who sell cherries or the collectors who round it up and bring it to the mill rarely respect such boundaries. But Acatenango coffees come from some of the most beautiful farms I have seen in Guatemala, and San Diego Buena Vista is a case in point. I have visited this farm and was impressed with their practices, the way they have separated all the cultivars on the farm, and the beautiful condition of the mill. When I was there, all the harvest was in, and they were reconditioning the mill, replacing bearings, cleaning and painting. Reinvestment and pride are always good signs at a mill! Cleanliness doesn't hurt either, and the SDBV mill, while quite old, was beautiful, even down to the flowers rimming the office alongside the drying patio.

It's a really classic Guatemala coffee too, a balanced and well-structured flavor profile. The dry fragrance of the SDVB is has classic Guatemala character, mild, restrained, with a milk chocolate note and roasted almond. There is a sharper sweet scent in the wet aromatic, caramelized brown sugar, and lots of, er, classic coffee scent. In the cup, the body is a key feature here, with a distinct thick, dense mouthfeel. The cup is Guatemala all the way. It has that great relationship between sweetness and bittersweetness, as well as brightness, body and cup flavor. Initially the vanilla and caramelly taste and syrupy body are on the palate, but they fade into tangy bittering notes ... good bitter, coffee bitter. There's cinnamon and other warming spices, a hint of Zacapa here between the caramel-vanilla and spice notes. In light roasts there's a citric brightness, a bit of red apple fruit toward the finish, while darker roasts classic dark chocolate tang to them. In terms of this great balance of cup qualities, this is the expression of Bourbon cultivar all the way. Which also makes it my current favorite for SO espresso. It is incredible as espresso; lemon-zested chocolate velvet!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Ripe coffee on the tree at Finca San Diego Buena Vista.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB/EP
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / classic Guatemala character, amazing body, balanced flavors
Roast: City+ to Full City+. This coffee works best with a bit more roast, and FC to FC+ makes great SO espresso as well!
Compare to: A "restrained" and approachable Guatemala flavor profile, rich chocolate roast tastes, thick mouthfeel.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Finca Cabrejo

As you descend into the picturesque town of Antigua on the road from Guatemala City, you will see an old brick wall and the unlikely gold script lettering that reads "Cabrejo." This is the entrance to the home of Agustin Fashen, and the gateway to the lower part of Finca Cabrejo that lies between the one-way roads in and out of Antigua. To get to the higher part of the farm, you will find a much less ornate sign, if you can find it at all. It spans a wide range, from 1,585-1,920 meters, and the trees seem to be in various stages of care, various types, various ages. That is why the farm is undergoing renovation, adding better road access and replanting some parts. The current shrubs are mainly Bourbon, Caturra and some Catuai. Actually, we found some very old Arabigo (Typica) plants as well, and some had yellow fruit! What I hope is that the changes made to get some better yields don't change the character of this coffee because it is simply amazing.

The dry fragrance is sweet, with a chocolate scent, as you might expect from an Antigua coffee. The wet aroma leans a bit more toward cocoa powder, with fading sweetness. The aroma differs from the cup flavors in that there isn't as much bitter chocolate present in the sapid taste of this coffee. Refined acidity and juicy mouthfeel pair with malic notes and a touch of berry. Caramelized sugar roast tones at lighter roasts. As the temperature drops wonderful toasted praline roast tones are evident. With great balance and sweetness, this is a very attractive cup. We pulled SO Espresso shots of it and they were clean, clear and sweet.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Small sign to the upper part of Finca Cabrejo, just outside Antigua.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Elegant, balanced, sweet, juicy, nuanced.
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet Antigua.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenango Gesha 2011

Floral scents, tropical fruit, intense sweentess: This cup is Gesha all the way; with the right roast it's like sipping a bouquet of flowers. If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirga Cheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other small farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. With this coffee, from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that literally shouts out "GESHA" at every step of the way. It has the elongated seed form, it roasts like Gesha, and has the pronounced cup character.

The dry fragrance is really potent, with rose and jasmine floral qualities, sweet pomelo citrus, and lightly toasted hazelnut. The wet aroma has toasted hazelnut, and more floral qualities emerge at this stage. The cup might, initially, seem mild compared to these strong aromatics. Give it time to cool a bit, as the floral and fruited notes ascend as the temperature descends. Sweet candied fruits, rosehip, orange glaze, strawberry preserves, a hint of pine, cherry, vanilla, rose fading to jasmine blossoms, lime juice; these are some of my notes for the cup flavors. It's a coffee that can take on a load of adjectives that long and still keep them coming. The finish is sweet, but this is kept in check by the brightness of this coffee, especially at lighter roast levels. My favorite roast this year is the City+ level. Unlike the Colombia Gesha we had earlier this season, this lot cups like Gesha under a wide range of roasts though, City to Full City. Quality on this lot is up from our offering last year and the year before, when the Gesha plants experienced damage from a windstorms and unseasonable weather, and the lot is also twice as big. Great cup quality, more coffee; we are very happy with the Gesha this year.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
New coffee blossoms on the Gesha tree
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Gesha Cultivar (also sp. Geisha)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Superb floral aromas, layers of fruit, light body
Roast: City to City+ have the strongest floral character, but it also comes through in the more developed Full City to Full City+ range.
Compare to: It's a Gesha coffee all the way, with floral hints and bright fruit found in some Yirga Cheffe coffees of Ethiopia. Body is medium - it's a delicate cup overall.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala San Juan Sacatepequez - Villa Lupe

Villa Lupe is a small farm near the town of San Juan Sacatepequez northwest of Guatemala City. We had bought from another farm in this area, San Jose Ocana, until they had problems delivering good quality (who knows, maybe in 2011 it will be better). But we liked what we cupped in this Villa Lupe so snatched up this small lot. The farm is 20 hectares total (about 50 acres), owned by Oscar Bucaro and is at 5300 feet altitude. They don't process the coffee cherries here; that is done under the care of a large farm called Bella Vista in Antigua. In fact, I think that's part of why this lot is so good. Bella Vista does a great job with the wet-milling and dry-milling of the coffee, to the same standards of their prime Antigua coffees. We have cellared this lot for later in the season using our GrainPro-lined jute bags, and it is cupping better right now than it did on arrival.

Fragrance of almond-hazelnut, malt grain and molasses-caramel are dominant in the dry ground coffee. These are all "sugar-browning" scents to some degree, related to roast, but in Villa Lupe they seem more like aromatic ester compounds intrinsic to the coffee itself. Adding hot water, the nutty scents sweeten, more like praline, which slightly floral accents emerge. There's a buttery aspect in the light roast, and dark fruit at Full City roast. The cup is a classic, clean and balanced Guatemalan. My lighter roasts were the best, City+ roast range. At this level the cup has a very well-structured acidity, a hint of peach with mild citric hints. The roast taste is rather candy-like, but the dominant flavor was hazelnut. Flavors open up as the cup cools. Full City roasts have a dark milk chocolate roast taste and are still quite sweet as well, with toasted almond as well. It's not a super powerful cup, but very refreshing on the palate, with an elegant and cleanly disappearing aftertaste. The body is moderate and silky. The refined flavors and finish suggest that this coffee is really well picked, with good cherry selection, and really well processed at the wet mill and dry mill. It has a very dense appearance in roasting, with the crease remaining tightly shut, something I like to see, at that hints at high altitude farms and good drying of the coffee after the wet process. Makes a sweet SO Espresso too!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
From my (imaginary) photo series, \\\\
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Juan Sacatepequez area
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Catuai, and Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Praline roast taste, sweet, an elegant Guatemala cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal, although the darker roasts were very nice as well. Super light roasts can be grainy, so make sure 1st crack has concluded, of course. FC+ for espresso
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean profile.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Hacienda Carmona Pulcal

Hacienda Carmona is located in Antigua at 5200-6100 feet altitude. They call the single-farm coffee from Carmona "Cafe Pulcal" which is the name of their mill as well. The farm dates to early colonial times, but coffee was planted 1800s when the farm was acquired by the Zelaya family, and first exported in 1918. Carmona is run by Maria Zelaya Aguirre since 1959, and she is the third generation that works and lives at Hacienda Carmona. While Maria certainly cares for her coffee, she is also so fond of her herd of cattle that she has named each one after a name of her friends (human friends, that is), so she is indeed quite a character. Luis Pedro Zelaya helps to manage the coffee at this point, and in fact we tried to visit after I finished my duties at the Cup of Excellence this year, but the explosion of Volcan Pacaya followed by torrential rains meant all routes to the farm were impassible. Carmona is said to have a unique micro-climate in the Antigua valley as well as hillside exposure and well-draining soils. To form this lot, we cupped too many small "day lots" to count, selecting those that had the best sweetness and brightness. Day lots are small harvest batches from particular areas of the farm. We opted for middle-of-the-harvest day lots since even and abundant ripeness means better cherry selection, and these are also from the higher reaches of the farm. More information and images about Hacienda Carmona.

Cafe Pulcal is truly a classic Guatemala coffee. Aromatically, the balance of scents in very nice: sweet butter, caramel popcorn, milk chocolate, all in proportion. Adding the hot water, the wet aroma is right in line with the dry fragrance, balanced, sweet, with a hint of acacia flowers. On the break I get toasted raisin bread. The chocolate in the darker roast aroma suggest the cup will be more aggressively bittersweet, but I am surprised how silky and elegant the overall impression of the cup flavors are. The acidity has a fruit accent in the higher notes in the cup, giving a more light and effervescent character overall. There is a grape-like sweetness, paired with blackberry flavor, and a bittersweet finish. It might be a more subtle flavor profile than other Guatemala coffees, but one that really opens up as the cup cools, and is very approachable and yet-layered in it's lasting impression.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Cows and coffee, in the peaceable kingdom of Carmona.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival -GrainPro
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/ Elegant, balanced, sweet
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala. We pulled some nice SO espresso shots from this coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala San Juan Pixcaya SWP Decaf

This is a Swiss Water Process decaf blend of Guatemala Fincas San Juan Pixcaya, La Florencia, and Capetillo. Pixcaya is the main constituent. This is a lot that was sent to Canada to decaffeinate by our pals over at Four Barrel. We think the results are really nice! The main farm is not one I have visited, but I have been all around the area of Sacatepequez, and it's a coffee we have offered several times as a non-decaf. If we can apply the acronym GIGO to coffee (google it if you must), this is definitely true with decaf. The coffee is never going to come back better than what you send, and a lot of brokers have been sending some pretty mediocre lots. To get control of the process, you need to send a solid coffee, or get your friends to do it, as is the case here. This coffee roasts to a very dark color, so you need to be aware of the smells and sounds of the roast to tip you off, so you can hit the desired degree of roast. For us, it was Full City.

Aromatically, this cup is not so impressive, but the cup flavors are really nice. To be honest I find the dry fragrance to have a Bakers chocolate roast note that is a bit unsweet and dry, and a hint of burlap fiber smell. The wet aroma has a bit of sweetness, but still suggests an agey smell as well. But, especially at Full City roast, this cup is great. There is a syrupy quality to the cup (in terms of flavor ... like Log Cabin syrup!), even though the body is not that "syrupy" in itself. There is a cherry-raspberry bright note, which gives the cup a lively accent (something that can be rare in a decaf). As it cools the cup has a cocoa powder flavor that emerges, along with a slightly herbal sweetness, like Ricola drops. I find this coffee really needs 24+ hours of rest after roasting to achieve some balance and body.





View Cupping Scores
When I haven't been to a particular farm, I use an image like this!
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: April 2011 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Syrupy sweetness, cherry-raspberry note
Roast: This coffee is best at Full City roast
Compare to: Classic high grown Guatemala, moderately bright, syrupy
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango -Finca La Providencia Dos

Huehuetenango has some extraordinary coffee farms, and the San Pedro Necta area in particular produces some stellar lots. La Providencia Dos is in the heart of San Pedro Necta, with altitudes ranging from 1300 to 1450 meters. It's an older farm and has been in the Anzueto family for decades. I visited there earlier this year with Victor Hugo Anzueto who currently oversees the mill at Providencia Dos. Why the Dos (two)? Because there are two other Providencia farms in Huehue and quite a few more throughout Guatemala. Providencia is perhaps second only to Esperanza (hope) as one of the more popular farm names. The coffee is Catuai and Caturra varietals mainly, although I saw some older Arabigo (Typica) trees on the farm as well. They have converted the mill to modern forced demucilage type process rather than the traditional fermentation method. We label this "Wet-Process Style" because the results are in the same taste tradition. (For example all of our Costa Rica coffees are processed in the modern way). For a really nice, high altitude Huehue coffee, this is a fortunate early arrival from the new crop, as most coffees from the area will be coming in June or so!

The fragrance from the dry grounds has nut and caramel sweetness, a Heath bar toffee scent, with apricot fruit in the light roast shifting to dark blackberry (Mora) at Full City+. The wet aroma is a big "ditto" on what is found in the fragrance, with the addition of a dark honey sweetness. Based on all those good smells, I expect the cup to be sweet, laced with mild fruits, caramelly, and clean. It is. What is a bit surprising is the balance of these qualities against the backdrop of a remarkably viscous, thick body. Not that it's Indonesia in body, but for a Huehue coffee in particular, it has quite a dense mouthfeel. It has stone fruits in the lighter roast, honeyed in sweetness, and hazelnut. Darker roasts have this nice syrupy blackberry note found in the aroma. This is a great coffee for bright SO espresso.





View Cupping Scores
View of the Providenica Dos mill from the highest ridge on the farm.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Pedro Necta, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Process Style
Arrival Date: Late April 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Catuai, Caturra, Arabigo
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Sweetness, fruit notes, body
Roast: City - Full City+: The coffee works at all roast levels.
Compare to: More body than other Huehuetenango coffees, but sweet and fruited like the best coffees of San Pedro Necta zone.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Ojercaibal

The Ojercaibal project is unique in Guatemala; small-holder farmers form a community and the coffee is tended with the care given to a small garden. It's a contrast to the large coffee estate system in other parts of Guatemala. The lot is a blend from these small farms, located at 1750-1900 meters. The abundance and variety of these tiny lots contributes to the unique, complex and dynamic qualities of this coffee. The project created many aspects of the infrastructure that made this meticulously processed coffee not only possible, but also successful: schools, cooking appliances, clean water and waste management. These improvements benefited the whole community of approximately 300 families (1300 inhabitants) all from indigenous (Kaqchiquel) descent who depend fully on agriculture for subsistence. This coffee can be found in the roasted form at fourbarrelcoffee.com, who helped us out by sharing some of this great coffee with us.

This is a classic, well-structured coffee. Structure? It refers to a coffee where all the tastes relate to each other through a firm (not necessarily aggressive) acidity. The dry fragrance has brown sugar and toffee-like scents with a hint of orange pekoe tea. Zesty orange notes come through in the wet aroma and in the cup as well. There is a honey-like sweetness (which increases as the cup cools) balanced by a pleasantly bracing acidity. I am enjoying the dark chocolate notes in the Full City+ roast as well. Overall it is quite a sweet, well-structured and clean cup. This is a late 2010 arrival that is cupping like new crop, whoich shows how well the coffee was processed and dried (as well as the benefit of the lined bags we are using which have the same effect as vacuum packing).



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
One of the small-holder farmers harvests coffee in Ojercaibal area.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Chimaltenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / A balanced coffee, very dense high-grown, moderate acidity and body
Roast: Full City to Full City+:
Compare to: Classic, balanced Guatemala, very high grown and dense.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Hacienda Carmona Pulcal

Hacienda Carmona is located in Antigua at 5200-6100 feet altitude. They call the single-farm coffee from Carmona "Café Pulcal". The farm dates to early colonial times, but coffee was planted 1800’s when the farm was acquired by the Zelaya family, and first exported in 1918. Carmona is run by Maria Zelaya Aguirre since 1959, and she is the third generation that works and lives at Hacienda Carmona. While Maria certainly cares for her coffee, she is also so fond of her herd of cattle that she has named each one after a name of her friends (human friends, that is), so she is indeed quite a character. Luis Pedro Zelaya helps to manage the coffee at this point, and in fact we tried to visit after I finished my duties at the Cup of Excellence this year, but the explosion of Volcan Pacaya followed by torrential rains meant all routes to the farm were impassible. Carmona is said to have a unique micro-climate in the Antigua valley as well as hillside exposure and well-draining soils. To form this lot, we cupped too many small "day lots" to count, selecting those that had the best sweetness and brightness. Day lots are small harvest batches from particular areas of the farm. We opted for middle-of-the-harvest day lots since even and abundant ripeness means better cherry selection, and these are also from the higher reaches of the farm.

Cafe Pulcal is truly a classic Guatemala coffee. Aromatically, the balance of scents in amazing: sweet butter, caramel, milk chocolate, all in proportion. Adding the hot water, the wet aroma is right in line with the dry fragrance, balanced, sweet, with a hint of acacia flowers. The chocolate in the aroma suggest the cup will be more aggressively bittersweet, but I am surprised how silky and elegant the overall impression of the cup flavors are. The acidity has a fruit-floral accent in the higher notes in the cup, giving a more light and effervescent character overall. There is a grape-like sweetness, paired with blackberry syrup flavor. It's an exceptionally clean coffee flavor, very transparent, which suggest really good picking and processing. It might be a more subtle flavor profile than other Guatemala coffees, but one that really opens up as the cup cools, and is very approachable and yet-layered in it's lasting impression.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Antique tiles at Hacienda Carmona with the crest. Picture courtesy of Colby@Verve
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/ Elegant, balanced, sweet
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala. We pulled some nice SO espresso shots from this coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala San Juan Sacatepequez - Villa Lupe

Villa Lupe is a small farm near the town of San Juan Sacatepequez northwest of Guatemala City. We had bought from another farm in this area, San Jose Ocana, until they had problems delivering good quality (who knows, maybe in 2011 it will be better). But we liked what we cupped in this Villa Lupe so snatched up this small lot. The farm is 20 hectares total (about 50 acres), owned by Oscar Bucaro and is at 5300 feet altitude. They don't process the coffee cherries here; that is done under the care of a large farm called Bella Vista in Antigua. In fact, I think that's part of why this lot is so good. Bella Vista does a great job with the wet-milling and dry-milling of the coffee, to the same standards of their prime Antigua coffees. We have cellared this lot for later in the season using our GrainPro-lined jute bags, and it is cupping better right now than it did on arrival.

Fragrance of almond-hazelnut, malt grain and caramel are dominant in the dry ground coffee. These are all "sugar-browning" scents to some degree, related to roast, but in Villa Lupe they seem more like aromatic ester compounds intrinsic to the coffee itself. Adding hot water, the nutty scents sweeten, more like praline, which slightly floral accents emerge. My lighter roasts were the best, City to City+ roast range. At this level the cup has a very well-structured acidity, peach with mild citric hints. The roast taste is rather candy-like, and still has that clean hazelnut note. It's not a super powerful cup, but very refreshing on the palate, with an elegant and cleanly disappearing aftertaste. The body is light, with a silky feel. The refined flavors and finish suggest that this coffee is really well picked, with good cherry selection, and really well processed at the wet mill and dry mill. It has a very dense appearance in roasting, with the crease remaining tightly shut, something I like to see, at that hints at high altitude farms and good drying of the coffee after the wet process. Makes a sweet SO Espresso too!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
"Forever, Girl." From my (imaginary) photo series, "Buses of San Juan Sacatepequez"
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Juan Sacatepequez area
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival, Grain Pro
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Catuai, and Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Praline roast taste, sweet, an elegant Guatemala cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal, although the darker roasts were nice as well.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean profile.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Finca La Folie

Just outside the town of Antigua is the small village of San Felipe de Jesus. And among the houses on the twisting and narrow side streets is an old coffee farm called La Folie. It is owned by Penny Matheu, having been divided off from the greater Matheu family lands and the neighboring Finca Filadelfia. The farm operates as a small estate of 91 acres, but processes the coffee at the Zelaya family mill, Bella Vista. La Folie did exceptionally well in the 2010 Cup of Excellence competition, reaching 5th place, an amazing result for a first-time entrant. I visited the farm after the event, and despite the fact it was bombarded with rain and mud in a violent storm the day previous. It's a beautiful old-style farm at 5100-5200 feet, planted chiefly in Bourbon, with Caturra and Typica as well. The manager, Don Julio Valencia, lives on the farm, and the plantings are well-organized in blocks and rows, a classic Antigua style farm on flat, fertile grounds.

The dry fragrance has classic Antigua balance, sweet caramel roast scents, melted butter, slight chocolate bittersweets, toasted bread. The wet aroma has a cocoa powder and chocolate biscuit quality, with sweetness fading into the background. As with another Antigua coffee this year, the Carmona Pulcal, that wet aroma is a little deceiving. The cup has less chocolate bittersweet aggressive notes than the aroma suggests. It's quite juicy in body, and very sweet. Apple fruit notes with a smidge of blackberry syrup well describes the sweet flavors, while caramelized sugars is contributed from the roast taste (City + roast level). It's a mild, yet very sweet and attractive coffee. It makes perfect sense how it placed so well in the competition!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
New crop coffee flowers after a hard rain the night before.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Felipe, Antigua Area
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Elegant, balanced, sweet, juicy, nuanced.
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet Antigua.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Maravilla SWP Decaf

This is the Swiss Water Process decaf of our Guatemala Finca La Maravilla lot that we sent to Canada to decaffeinate. We think the results are great! With decaf (and really with all green coffee) we remember the old term GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you send mediocre commodity coffee to the decaf plant, what can you reasonably expect to get back? Yet much decaf offered on broker's lists is reject lots, or (most likely) bulk containers sent direct to the plant without even basic cupping quality control. This is a different case; single origin, single estate decaf. Huehuetenango has some extraordinary coffee farms, and we have offered so many in the past: El Injerto, Huixoc, Injertal, and this one, Finca La Maravilla. I remember when we first offered this estate coffee, it's nicely fruited flavors and citrus brightness. So after several years of hiatus, we have it again, and it's every bit as good as the Maravilla of my memory. The farm is located very near El Injerto, in the La Libertad area of the state of Huehuetenango in Guatemala's north. The farm is owned by Mauricio Rosales and ranges from a very high 1500 meters all the way to 1850 meters. It is a bright coffee, a little lighter in body and less balanced perhaps than some of our other Guatemala offerings. But that is what makes it so special as well.

The fragrance from the dry grounds has raisin and fig fruited notes, and a dark-toned sweetness with soft chocolate wafer accents. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics come to life. Caramel apple notes and chocolate raisins are the best analogies. The cup has a very nice balanced brightness, with orange notes in the lighter roast levels, and a dry effect in the finish. There is a nut-toned roast taste, almond-like, and praline as it passes into the aftertaste. And it has a caramel-maple sweetness throughout, from lighter roast levels to Full City. In fact I can't think of a decaf that has such a nice, rounded sweetness in the cup. The body is medium-to-light, which suits the lively nature of this cup well, but at FC or FC+ roast levels has a very nice creamy mouthfeel. Like all decafs it can be a little tricky to target the exact degree of roast due to the darker color shift. But I found the Maravilla has good audible pops at first crack, and colors more predictably than others SWP type coffees. City+ and Full City roasts are ideal, and at least 24 hours post-roast rest helps things along too. La Maravilla decaf makes a fairly interesting decaf espresso blend component, adding aroma, fruit and brightness to the shot.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Mauricio with a handlful of parchment coffee at Finca La Maravilla.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Swiss Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: December 2010 Arrival Grain Pro
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright, fruited, balanced
Roast: City - Full City+: The coffee works at all roast levels. I particularity like City+ for the sweetly fruited notes
Compare to: A very sweet decaf, with good brightness preserved from the original lot.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Florencia Bourbon 2010

La Florencia is classified being in the Fraijanes coffee growing region, but more specifically it is on the fringe of this zone in Santa Elena Barrias. It is perched high above Lake Amatitlan, with stunning views of the volcanos that ring the lake. Much of Fraijanes is becoming suburbs of the capital, and coffee farms are becoming subdivided for housing. Still, the coffee tradition runs deep here, and some farms grow, harvest and mill their coffee as their grandparents (and oftentimes as the grandparent's grandparents) did long ago. La Florencia is a 6th generation farm in the same family. Much of Florencia features Bourbon seedstock, the type that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), named for the royal family of France at the time. It's an ideal coffee for high altitude cultivation, and results in dense physical structure of the coffee seed. This is great for roasting, as it promotes even heat transfer, and less damage to the bean structure. Bourbon coffees tend to have a "classic" Central American cup profile, balanced, very balanced, dense body, proportional bright notes, and sweetness. La Florencia delivers all those things.

The dry fragrance at City+ roast (coffee has a wrinkled surface texture still, with dark creases) is caramel and chocolate milk, with a sweet maple granola scent at City roast. A little darker and the fragrance reminds me of chocolate wafer cookies. In the wet aromatics, the sweetness is amplified, and some muted fruits and floral elements are present behind layers of chocolate. This cup has such a classic, balanced character, I can see myself enjoying it without much thought except "wow, that's a nice coffee!" It's definitely a crowd-pleaser and does well under a very wide range of roasts. There is a mild citrus brightness, tangerine-like, nested in almond and chocolate roast tones. The body is creamy, dense, thick, especially at FC roast level. As it cools, the brightness is more apparent and the cup seems more dimensional, and a floral essence emerges: honeysuckle flower. The finish has aromatic wood hints, traces of walnut. It's a solid cup, and the Bourbon character is fully expressed in it. As you would anticipate from a balanced Bourbon coffee, it does quite well as SO espresso, displaying dense body, chocolate-caramel roast flavor, and zesty lemon-laced brightness.





View Cupping Scores
Gerardo Flores at Finca La Florencia, from my April trip there.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Bourbon cultivar character, balance, dense body
Roast: Full City roast is ideal, but in reality this coffee is very forgiving in the roaster, accepting a wide latitude of roast levels.
Compare to: Some similarities to the highest grown Bourbon coffees of El Salvador, but with more sweetness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenango Gesha

Jasmine scents, citrus blossom, tropical fruit: This cup is Gesha all the way; with the right roast it's like sipping a bouquet of flowers. If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirga Cheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other small farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. With this coffee, from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that literally shouts out "GESHA" at every step of the way. It has the elongated seed form, it roasts like Gesha, and has the pronounced cup character.

The dry fragrance can be detected from across my cupping room, so strong is the sweet hibiscus, jasmine and lightly toasted hazelnut. It lacks the volatile notes in the floral smell of the best Esmeralda Gesha here, but is remarkable still. The wet aroma has toasted hazelnut, and more floral qualities emerge at this stage. The cup might, initially, seem mild compared to these strong aromatics. Give it time to cool a bit, as the floral and fruited notes ascend as the temperature descends. The floral character is, once again, like jasmine, hibiscus, geranium flower essence; a floral potpourri. The effervescent brightness in the light roasts is distinctly citric, lime and kumquat. Flowers are married to an assemblage of tropical fruit flavors. These fruit notes have passion fruit, rambutan, apricot. The list could go on, since each time I cup it, and at different temperatures, I get new fruited (and floral) notes out of this coffee. I guess that would be the very definition of complexity, this multi-dimensional flavor profile. The finish is sweet, but this is kept in check by the brightness of this coffee, especially at lighter roast levels. In the long aftertaste there is a macadamia nut hint, with cinnamon stick too. I think my favorite roast this year is the Full City, not as light as previously, but with more body and darker tones; very quaffable. Simply put, this is a very exotic cup, slightly less extreme than the Esmeralda Geshas of this year (that were 3x more expensive than this lot), but more balanced and remarkable in it's own right. Quality on this lot is up from our offering last year, when the Gesha plants experienced damage from a windstorm. It's a really nice cup.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Checking out the Gesha cherries in Guatemala, last year.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Gesha Cultivar (also sp. Geisha)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Superb floral aromas, layers of fruit, light body
Roast: While I always recommend Gesha at C+ , This Gesha can take a bit more roast too, up to FC before floral notes become fade behind roasty notes. Refer to the images and comments on my Gesha Roast Pictures page
Compare to: It's a Gesha coffee all the way, with floral hints and bright fruit found in some Yirga Cheffe coffees of Ethiopia. Body is medium - it's a delicate cup overall.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Bourbon -Finca San Diego Buena Vista

Acatenango is one of the under appreciated growing regions of Guatemala. It has always been overshadowed by nearby Antigua, and in fact many Acatenango coffees were sold as Antigua lots for many years. In mill-mark Antiguas, this is still the case, since farmers who sell cherries or the collectors who round it up and bring it to the mill rarely respect such boundaries. But Acatenango coffees come from some of the most beautiful farms I have seen in Guatemala, and San Diego Buena Vista is a case in point. I have visited this farm and was impressed with their practices, the way they have separated all the cultivars on the farm, and the beautiful condition of the mill. When I was there, all the harvest was in, and they were reconditioning the mill, replacing bearings, cleaning and painting. Reinvestment and pride are always good signs at a mill! Cleanliness doesn't hurt either, and the SDBV mill, while quite old, was beautiful, even down to the flowers rimming the office alongside the drying patio.

It's a really classic Guatemala coffee too, a balanced and well-structured flavor profile. The dry fragrance of the SDBVB is has a really distinct toffee sweet scent, as well as honey on buttered toast. There is a sharper sweet scent in the wet aromatic, slight berry fruits, caramelized brown sugar, and lots of, er, classic coffee scent! The body is a key feature here, with a distinct thick, dense mouthfeel. The cup is Guatemala all the way. It has that great relationship between sweetness and bittersweetness, as well as brightness, body and cup flavor. Initially the vanilla and caramelly taste and syrupy body are on the palate, but they fade into tangy bittering notes ... good bitter, coffee bitter. There's cinnamon and other warming spices, a hint of Zacapa here between the caramel-vanilla and spice notes. In light roasts there's a citric brightness, a bit of red apple fruit toward the finish, while darker roasts have a more blackberry tone. In terms of this great balance of cup qualities, this is the expression of Bourbon cultivar all the way. Which also makes it my current favorite for SO espresso. It is incredible as espresso; lemon-zested chocolate velvet!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Coffee blooms on the tree at Finca San Diego Buena Vista, from earlier this year.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB/EP
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / classic Guatemala character, amazing body, balanced flavors
Roast: City to Full City+. This coffee works well anywhere along the medium roast spectrum, and FC to FC+ makes great SO espresso as well!
Compare to: A "restrained" and approachable Guatemala flavor profile, rich chocolate roast tastes, thick mouthfeel.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenenango -Finca La Soledad

Finca La Soledad has been a Pérez family coffee farm since 1895, named in honor of a Perez grandmother, Soledad. Beyond simply inheriting a farm in a great micro-climate and altitude for coffee, the Perez family has shown great dedication to care for the trees, rebuild the mill to the highest ecological standards, and optimize the cup quality of their coffees. I have visited this farm the past 3 seasons and this is the second year to offer the coffee at Sweet Maria's. And I am so happy with the lot we are offering here. It's not some crazy "fruit bomb" coffee; it's a neo-typical Central that I find myself, on a weekend morning, wanting to select for my own brew. Henio and his son Raul work intensively on the farm, and Raul has been roasting and cupping samples regularly to master the quality control of their coffee. It might be surprising, but there very very few coffee farmers that are true cuppers of their own production! SCAA Roaster's Guild group spent time here on their Guatemala tour, and I was told that the coffee served was the best some had ever tasted while at a coffee farm. Bright yet balanced, sweet yet with a pleasant bittersweet tang as well, dense in it's mouthfeel, a great exemplar of the Guatemala flavor profile. The dry fragrance has a vibrant fruit/nut flavor; a chocolate-coated raisin, hazelnut scent. At darker levels chocolate bittersweet notes dominate, with traces of warming spice and clove. The aroma from the wet grounds has most of the same attributes, adding only a malt-o-meal sweet scent in the lighter roasts and some "brown bread on the hearth" smells at Full City roast. There is also a floral hibiscus scent. The aromatics are classic, clean, balanced Central America all the way, and the cup flavor follow suit. There is a grain-like sweetness in the lighter roasts, almond and apricot high notes; a pleasant cup with sweetened hot cereal character. At City+ roast a more rounded flavor profile emerges, with a dense mouthfeel, a more developed sweetness, but still apricot-nut flavors at the foreground. Now something else quite exciting about this Finca La Soldedad lot, the SO espresso. It is fantastic! Roasted just to the verge of 2nd crack, perhaps a few snaps into it, the espresso is bright, creamy, dense, sweet, chocolaty, silky. I enjoyed some shots at lighter roasts that were very citric and intense, but perhaps a little bright for some palates.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Cupping at the kitchen table: Raul Perez at the farm house, Finca La Soledad
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB/EP
Region: Acatenango Department
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Pache, Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Balanced, sweet-bittersweet balance, a classic Guatemala character
Roast: City+ roast to Full City+; for brewed coffee I recommend the lighter side of the spectrum, a bright-yet-balanced cup. FC+ makes a fantastic SO espresso!
Compare to: Classic balanced Guatemala highland coffees, such as Injerto Bourbon, Agua Tibia, La Florencia Bourbon.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Bella JBM Cultivar

Finca La Bella is near San Cristobal Acasaguastlan in El Progreso, and is a fourth generation coffee farm. It is the only farm in El Progreso department that we have coffee from, but it is unique in other ways too. La Bella is a larger farm that happens to have a small plot of Jamaica Blue Mountain Typica cultivar. And that is what we have here, the separated micro-lot of JBM coffee. As you may know, we buy a JBM cultivar from Kona, but we haven't actually bought a Jamaica coffee in quite a few years now. Why? I think you can guess ... it's the cup: Flat, dull, boring, blah. On the other hand we realize there is a degree of novelty in offering these pure JBM cultivar coffees grown in other locales. They were never planted in order to cash in on the name, and I can't tell you in a side-by-side cupping which would be a traditional Typica, and which is the JBM Typica. But I will say this is an old, traditional low-yield cultivar, and it cups like one. The fact this small lot receives a premium price, and is treated by a true micro lot by Teo and his workers at the farm is, very clear. It's a great, balanced cup and would beat the heck out of any JBM in blind cupping, I betcha! It's a really beautiful, balanced tenor-toned cup. The dry fragrance has an overt caramelly note, softly sweet. Adding hot water, there are ample chocolate tones, layers of milk chocolate and hints of pleasant cocoa bittersweetness. A bit of apple and warming spice emerge too. Light roasts have a lemony brightness, but anything City+ to Full City is all about body and milk chocolate. Caramel, toffee-apple, and root beer come out as the cup cools. It's not as acidic as other Guatemala coffees, especially from Huehuetenango and those areas, but it's a very nicely balanced "crowd-pleaser" flavor profile. It also seems to be sweeter with a little more roast. Usually I am recommending City roast for the best delicate notes, but I feel La Bella JBM shines at a slightly darker level.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Coffee trees with ripe and unripe fruit, Finca La Bella.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Sierra de las Minas, El Progreso
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Late July 2010 Arrival, GrainPro
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: JBM - Jamaica Blue Mountain Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic balanced Guatemala coffee
Roast: City+ to Full City is recommended here. Full City has nice milk chocolate roast notes as well.
Compare to: Excellent versatile Guatemala with restrained, balanced cup character,and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, nice body.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Puerta Verde Bourbon

Puerta Verde is a 4th generation family coffee farm in the Ciudad Vieja (Old City) Antigua, Guatemala. It is named for the green door that marks the entrance to the coffee farm. It's a medium-sized farm at 41 hectares, and like all Antigua coffees has great altitude (1539 meters). Since they don't have a wet mill, the coffee is processed by the respected Zelaya family nearby (Bella Vista estate). It was also graced with 7th place for a lot entered in the '09 Guatemala Cup of Excellence, and was the top coffee from Guatemala in the 2010 Coffee of the Year event at SCAA. Guatemala Antiguas are a bit tricky. When the mills in the area buy coffee cherry, it might be Antigua, or it might be from Acatenango or Chimaltenango or elsewhere. They have attempted to certify Antigua appellation coffees, but it's another fee that adds to the cost, and many aren't willing to bear it. The best way to get a great Antigua is to buy from a known small farm, and that's the case here with Puerta Verde (and our other farm-direct Antigua coffees this year).

Puerta Verde is a really nice cup this year, and lined up against other Antiguas, has a very nice chocoalte bittersweet balance and mildly fruited quality. Second batch of roasts I did tended toward a butter-caramel sweetness. The dry fragrance at optimal roast levels (City+) has that classic sweet - bittersweet balance. There's an strong chocolate scent at Full City roast, and a bit lighter I find the same butter-caramel hints, along with a slight trace of aromatic cedar. To this, the wet aroma adds a touch of sandalwood, hop flower and malt stout beer. In the cup, intense bittersweet notes are balanced by creamy body. It's a classic Bourbon cup, juicy mouthfeel, restrained flavors, classic Central America brightness and balance. When lined up with other Antigua lots in particular, traces of fruit are evident; apple notes at City+ and dark berry at Full City roast levels.





View Cupping Scores
Ripe cherry on the tree at Puerta Verde farm, Ciudad Vieja
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Sweet, lightly fruited and delicate Antigua cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala. We pulled some nice SO espresso shots from this coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca La Maravilla 2010

Huehuetenango has some extraordinary coffee farms, and we have offered so many in the past: El Injerto, Huixoc, Injertal, and this one, Finca La Maravilla. Maravilla means "the marvel" or "the wonder" and it truly is. I remember when we first offered this estate coffee, it's nicely fruited flavors and citrus brightness. So after several years of hiatus, we restarted our relationship with the farm last year, and have the coffee again in 2010. I visited Maravilla earlier this season during a wet period when the rugged road up the farm was impassible by car so we hoofed it up the slippery rocks and muddy road-turned-river. I think of myself as a pretty rugged coffee traveler, but that hike really did me in! The farm is located in the La Libertad area of the state of Huehuetenango in Guatemala's north, quite near the well-known Finca El Injerto It is owned by Mauricio Rosales and ranges from a very high 1500 meters all the way to 1850 meters. It is a bright coffee, a little lighter in body and less balanced perhaps than some of our other Guatemala offerings. But that is what makes it so special as well; a slightly fruited cup and dynamic brightness.

The fragrance from the dry grounds has raisin-fruited notes accented with citrus, and dark-toned brown sugar sweetness. After adding hot water, the wet aromatics leap to life: a zest of orange, caramel apple sweetness, toffee and red grape. The cup flavors are equally dynamic. This coffee has an ebullient, lively brightness, sweet-fruited notes, and mild sweet chocolate-dipped nuts. The body is medium-to-light, which suits the spirited nature of this cup well. (Light body with a heavy, rustic earthy Sumatra flavor profile would be odd, but with a higher-toned, refreshing coffee is seems appropriate). At Full City roast level there is a nice bittersweet root beer note that develops into soft mild chocolate flavor. As it cools there are slight almond nutty roast tones that come out, apple flavors, a hint of cranberry, with a lingering citrus acidic snap to the cup. At Full City+ levels I am able to coax some darker berry notes from the cup. I have yet to pull an SO espresso shot I truly love because the coffee is so bright, but hear from a top barista that it can be fantastic.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Mauricio shows me parchment coffee, at La Maravilla
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Sweet orange brightness, fruits, nut, light body
Roast: Full City+:
Compare to: Classic Huehuetenango coffee, super-high grown, bright, fruited, lighter body.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango La Esperanza Pacamara

La Esperanza means "The Hope" and it is probably one of the most common names for a coffee farm. Sadly, not all farms make money or can have "the hope" to produce a great coffee and get a great price for it. This Pacamara lot from La Esperanza in Huehuetenango, owned by Mr. Aurelio Villatoro, was on track to beat the odds. It was the top lot in the National Jury Selection at the Guatemala Cup of Excellence, and the number 1 coffee after the first round of the Internationals too. Then, in the 2nd round, there was one cup on one table that had a clear off-taint. The coffee was kicked out. Imagine ... over 120 cups brewed of this coffee, one bad sample, gone. But CoE is like the Indy 500 and one broken bolt can bring down a racecar. I felt differently though, and sought out the farm to purchase the lot at a great price. For me, it was the top coffee, super sweet, with honey, vanilla and jasmine. This lot has a range of sizes in the beans; Pacamara will do this to you because it is a rather unstable cultivar and tends to revert back to its genetic parents, Pacas and Maragogype. I would call the preparation of this coffee excellent, but not absolutely perfect (perhaps that's where the one bad bean came from), but the cupping results of the lot as it arrived two months later are impressive nonetheless. It might not have been CoE, but it deserves recognition for an outstanding cup, and Aurelio deserved (and received) a price 4x above normal for this coffee.

I had 4 sample roasts in front of me for this evaluation, from City to a light Full City roast. Pacamara do not look pretty at light roasts, but are most aromatic at this end of the spectrum. The fragrance ranged from honey butter, lemon wafer, violet blossom, and vanilla to cherry juice mixed with ripe red apple. Wet aroma emphasized vanilla and sweet butter, with added cinnamon toast at City+ and plum fruit at the light FC roast. The cup is high-toned in the light roasts, with apple-like (malic) brightness, and a syrupy caramel sweetness; caramel apples! While aromatically the lightest roasts were outstanding, in the cup I liked the City+ to Full City roasts most. Pear fruit notes fill in the higher tones in the cup, with stripes of lemon rind and fresh ginger. There are fresh spices in this cup, mace and cardamom, a touch of cinnamon, surprising additions to a Guatemala flavor profile. The sweetness is rustic, honey and maple syrup. I had a City+ roast with some interesting jasmine notes in it, but it wasn't in every cup I tested. As the cup cools, sage and pine emerge in the finish, especially at Full City level. It's an interesting cup, bright, but somewhat rustic too, with many layers of flavor emerging as the temperature drops.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
The big, elongated coffee fruit of Pacamara.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-19+ screen Screen
Varietal: Pacamara
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Exotic flavor profile, spices, honey, slightly rustic
Roast: City+ to Full City+ is recommended, the lightest City roasts had great aroma, but failed to deliver in the cup, whereas Full City had a big, intense flavor profile.
Compare to: Rather exotic flavor profile for a Guatemala, complex, unusual
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Florencia Caturra

Finca Florencia is in the Fraijanes region, in sight of the capital Guatemala City. This is called Santa Elena Barillas, above Lake Amatitlan, and much of the area is becoming suburbs of the capital. Coffee farms are becoming subdivided for housing. Still, the coffee tradition runs deep here, and some farms grow, harvest and mill their coffee as their grandparents (and oftentimes as the grandparent's grandparents) did long ago. La Florencia is a 6th generation coffee farm in the same family, and they had considered selling the land until they were inspired by their good results from the 2008 Cup of Excellence competition, as well as making the auction in the 2009 CoE. We are so glad they didn't throw in the towel, because they have great coffee, partially a result of good altitude (1470-1550 meters) and great seedstock. Finca La Florencia features pure Bourbon seedstock, they type that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), as well as the Bourbon mutation called Caturra. Caturra is one of the older natural hyrbids widely used in coffee cultivation, and unlike recent hybrids, does not over-produce or stress out the coffee shrub. And it has very nice cup quality, with perhaps a shade lighter body and more citric brightness than Bourbon. This is a lot separation done at the farm, isolating the Caturra from the Bourbon to reveal the unique cup character of each. It's interesting to cup them side by side, and it's clear that the cultivar speaks in a subtle way through the cup character. The Bourbon is very balanced, with a more muted brightness; this Caturra cup is very sweet, brighter, more dynamic, but retains classic Central character as well. The fragrance from the dry grounds has floral hints of rose and mild jasmine, and pastry-like sweetness. There's a touch of sweet granola as well. At Full City+ roast the fragrance is pure semi-sweet chocolate, and the cup flavors of darker roasts follow suit. We really liked City+ roast level best. The wet aromatics are dominated by toasted hazelnut, mild chocolate (like Nutella), and mild citrus flower hints. The lighter roasts (City to City+) feature a very clean, vibrant flavor profile. The body is quite light but has a silky quality. Toasted hazelnut roast flavor, and mild citrusy acidity define the cup, as well as a persistent malt sugar sweetness. There is a rose floral note and mandarin orange flavors in the finish, and jasmine tea qualities surface as the cup cools. It's fairly mild overall but with a pleasant, delicate yet long aftertaste; a classic Central America coffee in terms of balance, brightness and sweetness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
New leaves of Caturra cultivar coffee shrub.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Grain Pro)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Caturra cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/ Citrus notes, hazelnut roast tone, floral accent
Roast: City to Full City+: The character changes fairly dramatically between the lighter end of the roast spectrum to the darker roasts. As you near 2nd, chocolate bittersweet dominates, and subtle qualities like citrus and jasmine are overwhelmed. We prefer C+ roast overall.
Compare to: Classic high grown Guatemala cup, with good brightness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Fraijanes - Finca Agua Tibia

Finca Agua Tibia is a 150 year old farm located quite near Guatemala City in the Fraijanes region. Fraijanes was compared to the high price coffees from the region of Antigua in the past. After all, Fraijanes is about the same distance from the capital Guatemala City as Antigua, but in the opposite direction. The fact is, Fraijanes coffees have their own unique character, and some of that potential is just starting to be realized. Finca Agua Tibia (it literally means Farm of Lukewarm Water - sounds better in Spanish, eh?) is located at 5000 feet altitude, and the majority of the coffee land is planted in old growth Bourbon and Typica cultivar. It is a diverse farm, with a dairy, and ornamental plant nursery, and in fact 75% of the land is set aside as nature preserve. The fact they focus on other activities has aided the coffee quality in this case: they didn't tear out old trees and replant. They kept with traditional cultivars, and have the farm planted in giant, old-growth Typica and Bourbon types with less plants-per-hectare than other farms. It's an amazing place (if you see my Guatemala travelogues, I have many photos from the farm). I have cupped this coffee for years, and always had respect for it's fine balance; it struck me as a perfect exemplar of the Guatemalan cup profile. And in fact it seemed to be a more interesting cup, and have greater flavor attributes, than most Antiguas I had cupped. It's a consistently solid and reliable coffee, and it is always the first really good high grown coffee to arrive from the new crop. At a relatively light City+ roast, where some rough surface texture still exists on the bean, this cups out like a darker roast with chocolate bittersweets. I like that, because at this roast level it still has a very lively and bright cup too, things I value highly in a good high grown coffee. Dry fragrance has clean, sweet apple-like fruit, spice and chocolate, as does the wet aromatics. The cup has malic acidity; moderate sweetness and rounded mouthfeel, maple syrup at City+ roast and with a tangy chocolate finish at FC roast. There are spicy notes in the cup: slight clove, and mulling spice. Along with the apple hint, this makes for a real "hot apple cider" effect, passing through into the long aftertaste. The body is moderate but has a balanced, rounded effect, a characteristic found in many Bourbon cultivar coffees, though most of the old parts of the farm are Typica varietal, or so it seemed on my last visit. We made some excellent SO espresso shots from Agua Tibia at a FC roast level.





View Cupping Scores
Luis Roberto, who mills the Agua Tibia coffee, stands in front of towering old trees of Typica and Bourbon type.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Late April 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica (Old-Growth)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic bittersweet character with nuance.
Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy bittersweetness too.
Compare to: Excellent versatile Guatemala with restrained, balanced cup character,and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors. Great drinkin' coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Florencia 100% Bourbon 2009

La Florencia is in the Fraijanes region, located in the highlands above Lake Amatitlan, in sight of the capital Guatemala City. Much of Fraijanes is becoming suburbs of the capital, and coffee farms are becoming subdivided for housing. Still, the coffee tradition runs deep here, and some farms grow, harvest and mill their coffee as their grandparents (and oftentimes as the grandparent's grandparents) did long ago. It's a 6th generation farm in the same family! Finca La Florencia features pure Bourbon seedstock, they tyep that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), named for the royal family of France at the time. It's an ideal coffee for high altitude cultivation, and results in dense physical structure of the coffee seed. This is great for roasting, as it promotes even heat transfer, and less damage to the bean structure. Bourbon coffees tend to have a "classic" Central American cup profile, balanced, very balanced, dense body, proportional bright notes, sweetness. La Florencia delivers all those things. The dry fragrance at City + roast (coffee has a wrinkled surface texture still, with dark creases) is caramel and cocoa all over, with a bit of maple granola scent. With a little more roast, it reminds me of chocolate wafer cookies. In the wet aromatics, the sweetness is amplified, and some muted fruits are present behind layers of chocolate. This cup has such a classic, balanced character, I can see myself enjoying it without much thought except "wow, that's a nice coffee!" It's definitely a crowd-pleaser and does well under a very wide range of roasts. There is a mild citrus brightness, tangerine-like, nested in almond and chocolate roast tones. The body is creamy, dense, thick. As it cools, the brightness is more apparent and the cup seems more dimensional, and a floral essence emerges: honeysuckle flower. The finish has aromatic wood hints, traces of walnut. It's a solid cup, and the Bourbon character is fully expressed in it. As you would anticipate from a balanced Bourbon coffee, it does quite well as SO espresso, displaying dense body, chocolate-caramel roast flavor, and zesty lemon-laced brightness.





View Cupping Scores
Bourbon coffee fruit on the tree, Guatemala.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Bourbon-character, balance, dense body
Roast: Medium intensity/Bourbon-character, balance, dense bodyCity+ to Full City is recommended, but the fact is this coffee takes a wide range of roasts and performs well no matter what.
Compare to: Has some similarities to the highest grown Bourbon coffees of El Salvador, but with more sweetness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Bourbon -Finca San Diego Buena Vista

Acatenango is on of the under appreciated growing regions of Guatemala. It has always been overshadowed by nearby Antigua, and in fact many Acatenango coffees were sold as Antigua lots for many years. In mill-mark Antiguas, this is still the case, since farmers who sell cherries or the collectors who round it up and bring it to the mill rarely respect such boundries. But Acatenango coffees come from some of the most beautiful farms I have seen in Guatemala, and San Diego Buena Vista is a case in point. I have visited this farm and was impressed with their practices, the way they have separated all the cultivars on the farm, and the beautiful condition of the mill. When I was there, all the harvest was in, and they were reconditioning the mill, replacing bearings, cleaning and painting. Reinvestment and pride are always good signs at a mill! Cleanliness doesn't hurt either, and the SDBV mill, while quite old, was beautiful, even down the flowers rimming the office alongside the drying patio. It's a really classic Guatemala coffee too, a balanced and well-structured flavor profile. The dry fragrance of the SDBVB is has a really distinct toffee sweet scent, as well as honey on buttered toast. There is a sharper sweet scent in the wet aromatic, slight berry fruits, caramelized brown sugar, and lots of, er, coffee scent. (Sometimes these very classic Centrals exemplify a good clean coffee scent so well, what metaphor can describe them, except as what they are; coffee!) The cup is classic Guatemala all the way. It has that great relationship between sweetness and bittersweetness, as well as brightness, body and cup flavor. Initially the vanilla and caramelly taste and syrupy body are on the palate, but they fade into tangy bittering notes ... good bitter, coffee bitter. There's cinnamon and other warming spice, a hint of Zacapa here between the caramel-vanilla and spice notes. In light roasts there's a citric brightness, a bit of red apple fruit toward the finish, while darker roasts have a more blackberry tone. The body is a key feature here, with a distinct syrupy mouthfeel. In terms of this great balance of cup qualities, this is the expression of Bourbon cultivar all the way. This coffee took 10th Place in the finals of the SCAA Coffee of the Year competition this year, which is great for a balanced, non-exotic coffee like this ... I mean it doesn't have crazy strawberry scents or Gesha-like floral notes, so it would never be a #1 in an event like that. 10th for a classic coffee is very, very respectable. The only other Guat to make the finals was El Injerto at #5, the El Injerto that has won the Guat COE for the last 3 years.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
A rather shaggy-looking cupper gets into the trees, at Finca San Diego Buena Vista
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB/EP
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / classic Guatemala character, balanced brightness, body
Roast: City to Full City+. This coffee works well anywhere along the medium roast spectrum, and FC to FC+ makes great SO espresso as well!
Compare to:
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenenango -Finca La Soledad

Finca La Soledad has been a Pérez family coffee farm since 1895, named in honor of a Perez grandmother, Soledad. Beyond simply inheriting a farm in a great microclimate and altitude for coffee, the Perez family has shown great dedication to care for the trees, rebuild the mill to the highest ecological standards, and optimize the cup quality of their coffees. I have visited this farm the past 2 seasons but this is the first time we are able to offer the coffee at Sweet Maria's. And I am so happy with the lot we are offering here. It's not some crazy "fruit bomb" coffee; it's a prototypical Central that I find myself, on a weekend morning, wanting to select for my own brew. Bright yet balanced, sweet yet with a pleasant bittersweet tang as well, dense in it's mouthfeel, a great exemplar of the Guatemala flavor profile. The dry fragrance has a vibrant fruit/nut flavor; a chocolate-coated raisin, hazelnut scent. At darker levels chocolate bittersweet notes dominate, with traces of warming spice and clove. The aroma from the wet grounds has most of the same attributes, adding only a malt-o-meal sweet scent in the lighter roasts and some "brown bread on the hearth" smells at Full City roast. The aromatics are classic, clean, balanced Central America all the way, and the cup flavor follow suit. There is a grain-like sweetness in the lighter roasts, almond and apricot high notes; a pleasant cup with sweetened hot cereal character. At City+ roast a more rounded flavor profile emerges, with a dense mouthfeel, a more developed sweetness, but still apricot-nut flavors at the foreground. Now something else quite exciting about this Finca La Soldedad lot, the SO espresso. It is fantastic! Roasted just to the verge of 2nd crack, perhaps a few snaps into it, the espresso is bright, creamy, dense, sweet, chocolaty, silky. I love it!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Raul Perez and a harvest separation from a particular plot and day's harvest at La Soledad.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB/EP
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Pache, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Balanced, sweet-bittersweet balance, a classic character
Roast: City+ roast to Full City+; for brewed coffee I recommend the lighter side of the spectrum, a bright-yet-balanced cup. FC+ makes a fantastic SO espresso!
Compare to: Classic balanced Guatemala highland coffees, such as Injerto Bourbon, Agua Tibia, La Florencia Bourbon.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Palo Blanco WP Decaf

The Palo Blanco tree is used to shade coffee plantings, and is also the name of this farm in San Jose Pinula area near Fraijanes, Guatemala. This is a water process decaf that was sent directly to the decaffeination plant in Mexico from Guatemala. It retains the distinctive character of this coffee, and is very much a highland Guatemala in aromatics and cup flavors. I think it's a sweet cup, but has interesting spice notes and good acidic snap to it. The dry fragrance has apple ester notes and tons of roasted hazelnut. Sometimes this fruitiness is the result of the decaf process, and shouldn't be there in the aromatics, but in this case it is from the coffee. Fruited sweetness comes through in the wet aromatics too, malic and with some floral aspects too. In addition, the aroma is very sweet, and in the cup flavors the theme is continued ... classic Guat. character tinted with fruit and nut accents. I get a slight raspberry note in the City+ roast, and overall the character is bright, lively and high-toned. The aftertaste is brief, clean and pleasant, while the body is, as with most nice Guatemala coffees, light-to-medium. Overall, this cup echoes perfectly it's non-decaf counterpart; it has good Guatemala origin character.





View Cupping Scores
New coffee leaves under Palo Blanco shade trees, Fraijanes.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Jose Pinula
Processing: Wet-Process, then water process decaf
Arrival Date: November 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Catuai, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Good brightness, fruit and nut notes
Roast: City+ is the most lively, Full City and darker have good tangy chocolate notes.
Compare to: Mild Guatemala coffees of the non-decaf ilk.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala La Maravilla SWP Decaf

This is the Swiss Water Process decaf of our Guatemala Finca La Maravilla lot that we sent to Canada to decaffeinate. We think the results are great! Huehuetenango has some extraordinary coffee farms, and we have offered so many in the past: El Injerto, Huixoc, Injertal, and this one, Finca La Maravilla. I remember when we first offered this estate coffee, it's nicely fruited flavors and citrus brightness. So after several years of hiatus, we have it again, and it's every bit as good as the Maravilla of my memory. The farm is located very near El Injerto, in the La Libertad area of the state of Huehuetenango in Guatemala's north. The farm is owned by Mauricio Rosales and ranges from a very high 1500 meters all the way to 1850 meters. It is a bright coffee, a little lighter in body and less balanced perhaps than some of our other Guatemala offerings. But that is what makes it so special as well. The fragrance from the dry grounds has raisin and fig fruited notes, and a dark-toned sweetness with soft chocolate wafer accents. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics leap to life; caramel apple notes and chocolate raisins. The cup has a very nice balanced brightness, with orange notes in the lighter roast levels, and a dry effect in the finish. There is a nut-toned roast taste, almond-like, and praline as it passes into the aftertaste. And it has a caramel-maple sweetness throughout, from lighter roast levels to Full City. The body is medium-to-light, which suits the lively nature of this cup well, but at FC or FC+ roast levels has a very nice creamy mouthfeel. The La Maravilla decaf makes a fairly interesting decaf espresso blend component, adding aroma, fruit and brightness to the shot.





View Cupping Scores
The skin of the coffee cherry, carefully peeled, in my hand.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: October 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright, fruited, balanced
Roast: City - Full City+: The coffee works at all roast levels. I particularity like City+ for the sweetly fruited notes
Compare to: Classic high grown Guatemala, bright and fruited yet balanced.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Puerta Verde Bourbon

Puerta Verde is a 4th generation family-run coffee farm in the Ciudad Vieja (Old City) Antigua, Guatemala. It is named for the green door that marks the entrance to the coffee farm. It's a medium-sized farm at 41 hectares, and like all Antigua coffees has great altitude (1539 meters). Since they don't have a wet mill, the coffee is processed by the respected Zelaya family nearby (Bella Carmona estate). It was also graced with 7th place for a lot entered in the '09 Guatemala Cup of Excellence. I haven't been thrilled with Antigua coffees as of late, although there are certainly some nice ones. The Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon did not come through last year, and many of the large lots sold via brokers are pooled coffees that, honestly, are not truly Antiguas. When the mills in the area buy coffee cherry, it might be Antigua, or it might be from Acatenango or Chimaltenango or elsewhere. They have attempted to certify Antigua appellation coffees, but it's another fee that adds to the cost, and many aren't willing to bear it. The best way to get a great Antigua is to buy from a known small farm, and that's the case here. Puerta Verde is a really nice cup this year, and lined up against other Antiguas, has a very nice sweet fruit quality. The dry fragrance at optimal roast levels (City+) has a remarkable sweet - bittersweet balance. There's an intense chocolate scent, as well as butter and caramel soft hints, along with a slight trace of cedar. To this, the wet aroma adds a touch of sandalwood, hop flower and malt stout beer. In the cup, intense bittersweet notes are balanced by creamy body. It's a classic Bourbon cup, dense mouthfeel, restrained flavors, classic Central America brightness and balance. When lined up with other Antigua lots in particular, traces of fruit are evident; apple notes at City+ and dark berry at Full City roast levels.





View Cupping Scores
Ripe cherry on the tree at Puerta Verde farm, Ciudad Vieja
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Sweet, lightly fruited and delicate Antigua cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca San José Ocaña

This has been a favorite coffee at Sweet Maria's for several years now, and will be in the future, I am sure. Even before we had a relationship with the farm, I had been trying to buy this lot for years, and it's one of my favorite Guatemala farms, a classic, traditional coffee. The farm is from an original land grant of 1623, and the owners have now grown coffee here for 5 generations. It's a very Bourbon-like, high altitude coffee, and has an unusual roast dynamic. And as a confirmation of the great cup quality (not that it is needed here but ...) this farm won #2 spot in the 2007 Guatemala Cup of Excellence. (They didn't have any excess coffee to enter a lot in '08 or '09). You can literally see what a dense, high-grown coffee it is as you roast it: small, dense little seeds that almost seem to shrink like raisins, the creases depending and darkening, before it reaches Full City roast. That compact form, tight crease, and resistance to expansion hints at Bourbon cultivar (there is some Catuai in the mix), and slow, steady maturation on the tree. That's what happens when you grow coffee way up at 1900 meters. I found this coffee has a very wide range of roasts that have great results, from a light City roast through Full City+. The lighter roasts have a punctuated fruitiness to them, bright tannic grape, floral aromatics, and sweet malt syrup roast taste. I really enjoyed watching this coffee take on a bit more color, passing into the Full City range, but not into 2nd crack at all. Here there is a unique balance between chocolate, toffee and raisin sweetness, with mild spice hints, concord grape, berry, and a floral scents (potpourri). All these qualities are moderate in quantity, against the backdrop of a "restrained" cup character overall. This is not a loud coffee, a fruit bomb, a Gesha type. It's a classic high-grown Guatemala. As a cupper, this coffee exudes immense cup quality, as a roaster you can see that dense, tight-fisted little bean take on heat and color just beautifully, and as a guy who just likes a great cup of coffee, this is one I take home on the weekend. We have also found it can make for some excellent SO espresso, or as a blend accent.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
The drying patio at San Jose Ocana, taking the dried parchment coffee off for bagging.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Juan Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: Late July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, some Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Excellent aromatics, sweetness, complexity, structure.
Roast: City - City+ to FC+ The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter. At this lighter level, the coffee won't look as pretty as it does at FC+, more surface texture and patchy coloration. City roast (even lighter) is more fruited, but the body is a little lacking.
Compare to: Classsic super-high grown Guatemala. It reminds me of the Finca El Injerto pure Bourbon.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca La Maravilla 2009

Huehuetenango has some extraordinary coffee farms, and we have offered so many in the past: El Injerto, Huixoc, Injertal, and this one, Finca La Maravilla. I remember when we first offered this estate coffee, it's nicely fruited flavors and citrus brightness. So after several years of hiatus, we have it again, and it's every bit as good as the Maravilla of my memory. The farm is located very near El Injerto, in the La Libertad area of the state of Huehuetenango in Guatemala's north. The farm is owned by Mauricio Rosales and ranges from a very high 1500 meters all the way to 1850 meters. It is a bright coffee, a little lighter in body and less balanced perhaps than some of our other Guatemala offerings. But that is what makes it so special as well. The fragrance from the dry grounds has raisin and fig fruited notes, and a dark-toned sweetness. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics leap to life; caramel apple, pecans, with a zest of orange and red grape. The cup flavors are outstanding: This coffee has an ebullient brightness, sweet fruited notes, mild sweet chocolate-dipped nuts. The body is medium-to-light, which suits the lively nature of this cup well. (Light body with a heavy, rustic earthy Sumatra flavor profile would be odd, but with a higher-toned, refreshing coffee is seems appropriate). At C+ roast there is a nice bittersweet root beer note that develops into soft mild chocolate flavor at Full City roast level. As it cools there are nutty roast tones that come out, apple flavors, with a lingering citrus acidic snap to the cup. At Full City levels I am able to coax some darker berry notes from the cup. I have yet to pull an SO shot but hear from a top barista that it can be fantastic, and will try as soon as my roasts are properly rested.





View Cupping Scores
The skin of the coffee cherry, carefully peeled, in my hand.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Sweet orange brightness, fruits, nut, chocolate, light body
Roast: City - Full City+: The coffee works at all roast levels. I particularity like City+ for the sweetly fruited notes
Compare to: Classic super-high grown Guatemala, akin to the excellent San Jose Ocana and El Injerto Bourbon lots.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Bella JBM Cultivar

Finca La Bella is near San Cristobal Acasaguastlan in El Progreso, and is a fourth generation coffee farm. It is the only farm in El Progreso department that we have coffee from, but it is unique in other ways too. La Bella is a large farm with a small plot of Jamaica Blue Mountain Typica cultivar, and that is what we have here, the separated micro-lot of JBM coffee. As you may know, we buy a JBM cultivar from Kona, but we haven't actually bought a Jamaica coffee in quite a few years now. Why - I think you can guess ... it's the cup. Flat, dull, boring, blah. On the other hand we realize there is a degree of novelty in offering this pure JBM cultivar coffees grown in other locales. They were never planted in order to cash in on the name, and I can't tell you in a side-by-side cupping which would be a traditional Typica, and which is the JBM Typica. But I will say this is an old, traditional low-yield cultivar, and it cups like one. It's a great, balanced cup and would beat the crap out of any JBM in blind cupping, I betcha! It's a really beautiful, balanced tenor-toned cup. The dry fragrance has an overt caramelly tone, softly sweet. Adding hot water, there are ample chocolate tones, layers of milk chocolate and hints of pleasant bittersweetness. A bit of apple and warming spice emerge too. Light roasts have a lemony brightness, but anything City+ to Full Citys is all about body and milk chocolate. Caramel, toffee-apple, and root beer come out as the cup cools. It's not as acidic and bright as some of our other Guatemalas this year, such as La Maravilla or San Jose Ocana, but it's a very nice balanced "crowd-pleaser" flavor profile.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Coffee cherry just harvested, going into the pulper at Finca La Bella.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Sierra de las Minas, El Progreso
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: JBM: Jamaica Blue Mountain cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic balanced Guatemala coffee
Roast: City+ is highly recommended here. Full City has nice milk chocolate roast notes as well.
Compare to: Excellent versatile Guatemala with restrained, balanced cup character,and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, nice body.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenango Gesha

Jasmine, citrus blossoms, tropical fruit: This cup is Gesha all the way; like sipping a bouquet of flowers! If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirga Cheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other small farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. With this coffee, from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that literally shouts out "GESHA!" at every step of the way. It has the elongated seed form, it roasts like Gesha, and has the fantastic, pronounced cup character. The dry fragrance can be detected from across my cupping room, so strong is the sweet hibiscus, jasmine and lightly toasted hazelnut. It lacks the volatile notes in the floral smell of the best Esmeralda Gesha here, but is remarkable still. The wet aroma has toasted hazelnut, and more floral qualities emerge at this stage. The cup might, initially, seem mild compared to these strong aromatics. Give it time to cool a bit, as the floral and fruited notes ascend as the temperature descends. The floral character is, once again, like jasmine, hibiscus, geranium flower essence; a floral potpourri. The effervescent brightness in the light roasts is distinctly citric, lime and kumquat. Flowers are married to an assembly of tropical fruit flavors. These fruit notes have passion fruit, rambutan, apricot. The list could go on, since each time I cup it, and at different temperatures, I get new fruited (and floral) notes out of this coffee. I guess that would be the very definition of complexity, this multi-dimensional flavor profile. The finish is so sweet, and in the long aftertaste there is a macadamia nut hint. Simply put, this is a very exotic cup, slightly less articulate than the high-priced Esmeralda Geshas of this year, but remarkable in it's own right. Quality on this lot is up from our offering last year, when the Gesha plants experienced damage from a windstorm. It's a fantastic cup!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Checking out the Gesha trees; Tom in Guatemala.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Gesha Cultivar (also sp. Geisha)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Superb floral aromas, layers of fruit, light body
Roast: While I always recommend Gesha at C+ , This Gesha can take a bit more roast too, up to FC before floral notes become fade behind roasty notes. Refer to the images and comments on my Gesha Roast Pictures page
Compare to: It's a Gesha coffee all the way, with floral hints and bright fruit found in some Yirga Cheffe coffees of Ethiopia. Body is light - a delicate cup overall.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Fraijanes - Finca Agua Tibia

Finca Agua Tibia is a 150 year old farm located quite near Guatemala City in the Fraijanes region. Fraijanes was compared to the high price coffees from the region of Antigua in the past. After all, Fraijanes is about the same distance from the capital Guatemala City as Antigua, but in the opposite direction. The fact is, Fraijanes coffees have their own unique character, and some of that potential is just starting to be realized. Finca Agua Tibia (it literally means Farm of Lukewarm Water - sounds better in Spanish, eh?) is located at 5000 feet altitude, and the majority of the coffee land is planted in old growth Bourbon and Typica cultivar. It is a diverse farm, with a dairy, and ornamental plant nursery, and in fact 75% of the land is set aside as nature preserve. The fact they focus on other activities has aided the coffee quality in this case: they didn't tear out old trees and replant. They kept with traditional cultivars, and have the farm planted in giant, old-growth Typica and Bourbon types with less plants-per-hectare than other farms. It's an amazing place (if you see my Guatemala travelogues, I have many photos from the farm). I have cupped this coffee for years, and always had respect for it's fine balance; it struck me as a perfect example of neotypical Guatemalan cup profile. And in fact it seemed to be a more interesting cup, and have greater flavor attributes, than most Antiguas I had cupped. It's a consistently great coffee, and this 2009 crop continues the tradition. At a relatively light City+ roast, where some rough surface texture still exists on the bean, this cups out like a darker roast; pungent, and zesty chocolate bittersweets. I like that, because at this roast level it still has a very lively and bright cup too, things I value highly in a good high grown coffee. Dry fragrance as clean, sweet apple-like fruit, spice and chocolate, as does the wet aromatics. The cup has malic acidity, sweet and rounded, caramelly at City+ roast and with a tangy chocolate finish at FC roast. There are a lot of spicy notes in the cup: slight clove, and mulling spice. Along with the apple hint, this makes for a real "hot apple cider" effect, passing through into the long aftertaste. The body is not that heavy, and overall the coffee is not that intense, and very approachable. We made some excellent SO espresso shots from Agua Tibia at a FC roast level.





View Cupping Scores
Luis Roberto, who mills the Agua Tibia coffee, stands in front of towering old trees of Typica and Bourbon type.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica (Old-Growth)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic bittersweet character with nuance.
Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy bittersweetness too.
Compare to: Excellent versatile Guatemala with restrained, balanced cup character,and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors. Great drinkin' coffee.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala El Injerto Estate Pacamara

This lot was prepared only from the large-bean Pacamara cultivar planted at the well-known farm El Injerto. This is a farm I visited from back around 7 years ago, and whose coffee we have offered in some seasons. El Injerto means "The Graft" (aka agricultural grafting) and is owned by Arturo Aguirre Escobar, representing the third generation of his family. He has worked the farm since 1956. Most of the coffee is planted between 1500 and 2000 meters, on a farm that dedicates a huge portion of its total land to an uncut old-growth forest. Pacamara means Pacas X Maragogype, the later being the large bean mutation that occurred spontaneously in Brazil 80 years ago. Pacas is a Bourbon hybrid that came from El Salvador in the '50s. It might be interesting that this cultivar from Injerto won the Guatemala Cup of Excellence in 2008. More on that later. The fragrance from the dry grounds is so caramelly sweet, with tropical fruit notes (Rambutan, Lychee) and some violet floral scents. The wet aromatics have tea and mulling spice suggestions, with some lingering sweet citrus. In the cup, the aromatic clues are realized in apple cider notes, spice (cinnamon, a dash of black pepper), tea, and a dark brown sugar sweetness that remains well into the aftertaste. As it cools there is a touch of dry black currant, mint and fig. The Injerto Pacamara is unique in the way it relates to other Pacamaras from El Salvador or Nicaragua. It's clean, sweetly fruited, spicy. Pacamaras grown at lower altitudes can be more herbaceous, oniony (salad onion or scallions usually) and a bit more muddled in the flavors ... less articulate. At FC roast the body is really velvety, and I enjoy the creamy chocolate truffle flavors at this slightly darker roast as well. It's a coffee that works at any roast degree. It's no wonder that a special Micro Lot of the coffee won #1 in the Guatemala Cup of Excellence 2008, with a record price paid (we have a small amount of this coffee to offer as well, at an exponentially greater price! The bulk went to our friends at Stumptown. You can obtain this same lot of non-auction El Injerto Pacamara from them, expertly roasted.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Pacamara Cultivar (Large Bean)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balanced, unique flavor fruit and floral notes.
Roast: City - City+ to FC+. I like the smooth chocolate truffle at FC+, but the floral notes of the City+ roast are diminished greatly.
Compare to: Unique Pacamara cup, cleaner and more floral than other Pacamara coffees.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Acatenenango - Buena Vista Gesha

This cup is Gesha all the way; like sipping a bouquet of flowers! If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirgacheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other small farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. With this coffee, from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that literally shouts out "GESHA!" at every step of the way. It has the elongated seed form, it roasts like Gesha, and has the fantastic, pronounced cup character. The dry fragrance can be detected from across my cupping room, so strong is the sweet hibiscus and lightly toasted hazelnut. It lacks the floral dimension of the best Esmeralda Gesha here, but is remarkable still. The wet aroma has toasted hazelnut, and more floral qualities emerge at this stage. The cup might, initially, seem mild compared to these strong aromatics. Give it time to cool a bit, as the floral and fruited notes ascend as the temperature descends. The floral character is , once again, like hibiscus flower essence, married to an assembly of tropical fruit flavors. These fruit notes have cherry, passionfruit, mango. The list could go on, since each time I cup it, and at different temerpatures, I get new fruited (and floral) notes out of this coffee. I guess that would be the very definition of complexity, this multi-dimensional flavor profile. The finish is so sweet, and in the long aftertaste there is a macademia nut hint. Simply put, this is a very exotic cup, slightly less articulate than the high-priced Esmeralda Geshas of this year, but remarkable in it's own right. The plot of Gesha experienced some heavy wind damage before the harvest this year, so the crop was very small. The point scores are a little downfrom last year too but the cup is still remarkable, and quite inexpensive for a Gesha still!





View Cupping Scores
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Acatenango
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late July 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Gesha Cultivar (also sp. Geisha)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/great balance, spice notes.
Roast: While I always recommend Gesha at C+ , The BV Gesha can take a bit more roast too, up to FC before floral notes become fade behind roasty notes. Refer to the images and comments on my Gesha Roast Pictures page
Compare to: It's a Gesha coffee all the way, with floral hints and bright fruit found in some Yirga Cheffe coffees of Ethiopia. Body is light - a delicate cup overall.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Fraijanes - Finca Agua Tibia

Finca Agua Tibia is a 150 year old farm located quite near Guatemala City in the Fraijanes region. Fraijanes was compared to the high price coffees from the region of Antigua in the past. After all, Fraijanes is about the same distance from the capital Guatemala City as Antigua, but in the opposite direction. The fact is, Fraijanes coffees have their own unique character, and some of that potential is just starting to be realized. Finca Agua Tibia (it literally means Farm of Lukewarm Water - sounds better in Spanish, eh?) is located at 5000 feet altitude, and the majority of the coffee land is planted in old growth Bourbon and Typica cultivar. It is a diverse farm, with a dairy, and ornamental plant nursery, and in fact 75% of the land is set aside as nature preserve. The fact they focus on other activities has aided the coffee quality in this case: they didn't tear out old trees and replant. They kept with traditional cultivars, and have the farm planted in giant, old-growth Typica and Bourbon types with less plants-per-hectare than other farms. It's an amazing place (if you see my Guatemala travelogs, I have many photos from the farm). I have cupped this coffee for years, and always had respect for it's fine balance; it struck me as a perfect example of neotypical Guatemalan cup profile. And in fact it seemed to be a more interesting cup, and have greater flavor attributes, than most Antiguas I had cupped. It's a consistently great coffee, and this 2008 crop continues the tradition. I get clean bittersweet chocolate roast notes, aromatic cedar in the finish, and warming spice throughout. At a relatively light City+ roast, where some rough surface texture still exists on the bean, this cups out like a darker roast; pungent, and zesty chocolate bittersweets. I like that, because at this roast level it still has a very lively and bright cup too, things I value highly in a good high grown coffee. There are a lot of spicey notes in the cup: clove, nutmeg, mulling spice. Along with the apple hint, this makes for a real "hot apple cider" effect, passing through into the long aftertaste. The body is not that heavy, and overall the coffee is not that intense, and very approachable.





View Cupping Scores
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica (Old-Growth)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic bittersweet character with nuance.
Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy bittersweetness too.
Compare to: Excellent Guatemalan cup character, with balance, and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, apple note.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca La Florencia 100% Bourbon 2008

La Florencia is in the Fraijanes region, in sight of the capital Guatemala City. Much of Fraijanes is becoming suburbs of the capital, and coffee farms are becoming subdivided for housing. Still, the coffee tradition runs deep here, and some farms grow, harvest and mill their coffee as their grandparents (and oftentimes as the grandparent's grandparents) did long ago. Finca La Florencia features pure Bourbon seedstock, they tyep that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), named for the royal family of France at the time. It's an ideal coffee for high altitude cultivation, and results in dense physical structure of the coffee seed. This is great for roasting, as it promotes even heat transfer, and less damage to the bean structure. Bourbon coffees tend to have a "classic" Central American cup profile, balanced, very balanced, dense body, proportional bright notes, sweetness. La Florencia delivers all those things. The dry fragrance at City + roast (coffee has a wrinked surface texture still, with dark creases) is hazelnuts and cocoa all over. With a little more roast, it reminds me of chocolate wafer cookies! In the wet aromatics, the sweetness is amplified, and muted fruits are present behind layers of chocolate. This cup has such a classic, balanced character, I can see myself enjoying it without much thought except "wow, that's a nice coffee!" It's definitely a crowd-pleaser and does well under a very wide range of roasts. Green apple and mild citrus brightness is nested in almond-hazelnut-chocolate roast tones. The body is dense, thick. As it cools, the brightness is more apparent and the cup seems more dimensional. The finish has aromatic wood hints, traces of walnut. It's a solid cup, and the Bourbon character is fully expressed in it.





View Cupping Scores
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Fraijanes
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late April 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Bourbon-character, balance, dense body
Roast: Medium intensity/Bourbon-character, balance, dense bodyCity+ to Full City is recommended, but the fact is this coffee takes a wide range of roasts and performs well no matter what
Compare to: Has some similarities to the highest grown Bourbon coffees of El Salvador, but has a bit more sweetness.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Antigua Los Pastores Peaberry

Los Pastores is a mill located just outside the old part of Antigua, Guatemala … the historic old capital before it was moved to Guatemala City. The mill itself is historic, a converted four mill, made of wood and sheet metal with a lifetime of quirky wooden patches, repairs, modifications. It seems appropriate, because they prepare coffee here in a very traditional way, by hand. They do not use modern electronic sorting; they have 40 or 60 or 80 (depending on the season) people who sit at special desks and sort green coffee bean by bean in preparation for export. This is rare too, because when many mills sort, they do so on a continuously moving or intermittent conveyor. At Pastores, the sorters study coffee, and while it is not as quiet as a library (they gossip a lot), it certainly looks like a repository of tomes, or perhaps a big schoolroom. I spent time there on a couple of trips recently, and it was amazing to see the difference between night and day. At night, the harvest from the day's picking is being recieved, the pulpers are thumping away, and the smell of coffee fruit is ripe in the air, but inside the mill is a ghost town. In the morning, a few men are cleaning outside and raking coffee on the patios, while the sorting room is abuzz with activity as 50 or more women expertly remove defect beans at their "desks" while they gossip with those around them! Anyway, Los Pastores buys ripe cherry from local farms, many with whom they have long relations, but this is not farm specific coffee. I have seen them receive their cherry, and the quality (ripeness) is outstanding. They use old style depulpers and fermentation tanks, and wash the coffee in long channels as people have done for years and years. All this effort results in classic, sweet, clean Antigua coffee. I was really impressed with this lot. The dry fragrance has toasted grain and nut sweetness, honey and almond. There are hints of sweet, mild, yellow fruits in the aromatics and the cup flavors. I get a bit of white grape, as well as starfruit and pear. It's not a powerhouse of intensity, but has finely layered flavors that become better enunciated as the cup cools.





View Cupping Scores
Receiving the daily coffee pickings at Beneficio Los Pastores, from my trip last February during harvest time.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/ Sweet and delicate Antigua cup profile
Roast: City+ is ideal here.
Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala El Injerto Estate 100% Bourbon

This lot was prepared only from the traditional Bourbon cultivar planted at the well-known farm El Injerto. This is a farm I visited back around 9 years ago, and whose coffee we have offered in some seasons. But we haven't had the pure Bourbon in years, if I exclude the #1 Cup of Excellence lot from last year, which was Injerto Bourbon! In fact, our friends up in Portland, Stumptown Coffee, get all the Bourbon and were nice to share some of their special lot with their Oakland pals. You can buy this coffee expertly roasted from Stumptown too! El Injerto means "The Graft" (aka agricultural grafting) and is owned by Arturo Aguirre Escobar, representing the third generation of his family. He has worked the farm since 1956. Most of the coffee is planted between 1500 and 2000 meters, on a farm that dedicates a huge portion of its total land to an uncut old-growth forest. It's a model farm, really, and a consistently quality cup. This coffee works so well on a wide range of roasts levels, it is hard to go wrong. The darker roasts, toward Full City at least, have a more intense, winey fruit that emerges, whereas the lightest roast test I did (City) has a malty sweetness. The dry fragrance is very balanced between malty-chocolate scents, cocoa, and slight floral accents. The wet aroma is very consistent with the dry grounds, adding a slight mild lemon hint and dry fruit. The cup flavors are tightly knit together: black walnut and bittersweet chocolate roast flavors combine well at FC roast. There is a pleasant dryness to the chocolate, and the body of this coffee is incredibly dense. There are plum wine notes in the finish, darkly fruited, just peeking out behind the tangy chocolate. The lightest City roast I did cools well, but the body is not so developed. Fully City is where this coffee is "hitting on all cylinders", but, frankly, every roast I did was quite good! You can see by the way this coffee stays so tightly clenched during the roast, and colors in the late stages that it is a very high-grown Bourbon coffee. It's very Bourbon-like, uh, we are referring to the cultivar, NOT Bourbon whiskey!





View Cupping Scores
The stream at El Injerto, from a trip to Guatemala I took way back in 2001.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: Oct 2008 Arrival, Vac Packed
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon varietal
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Fantastic balance, body, roast notes
Roast: City+ to FC+ The coffee works at all roast levels, but I enjoyed the well-developed fruit that emerges at FC roast, before 2nd crack begins.
Compare to: Classic Bourbon balance.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Organic Finca Ceylan Maragogype

What other farm in Central America has the range of altitude to grow both robusta on the lowest plots to fine arabicas and Maragogype (the large "elephant bean") at the highest elevations. Finca Ceylan ranges from 3500 feet to more than 4500 feet (1350 meters). The farm has been in the Echeverria family since 1870, and has organic certification for years now. Aside from having a forest reserve, they have a diverse harvest in addition to coffee: cardamom, macadamia nuts, platano‚ banana. They grew and processed sugar cane to make Panela for years, but the sugar mill was ruined in sever rains some years back. The farm maintains the river basins and the natural vegetation that grows nearby. The coffee residues from the wet mill are used as an organic fertilizer in the coffee plantation, creating a self-sufficient system. The water used in the wet mill process is filtered through oxidation tanks to avoid contamination in river basins. The farm has a natural forest which has been protected to conserve the different species of trees, plants and animals to protect the ecosystem. This is such an unusual cup, and cultivar is a major contributor to the interesting cup character here. Of course, the huge beans have a different roast dynamic too, absorbing heat in the roast chamber slower, perhaps due to a lower physical density of the seed. The cup has a kind of softness to it, but Finca Ceylan grows Maragos at higher altitude than other places, and you can see this in the bright notes in this cup. The fragrance is marked by a smokey kind of sweetness, aromatic wood tones, sweet cedar. These are echoed in the wet aromatics, with the addition of attractive herbal / floral / sage blossom smells. It really opens up. The cup flavors are exotic, with hints of hickory smoke, sweet tobacco, savory spice, and even just the tiniest bit of barbeque sauce! Perhaps you need to contrast this cup with another Guatemalan coffee, perhaps one of the classic Bourbon cultivar coffees we offer, to appreciate how different it truly is. There are spicy hints a bit of vanilla bean, and big, soft body. But those who buy giant "elephant bean" coffee aren't looking for the ordinary!





View Cupping Scores
green coffee bean
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Miguel Pochuta, Chimaltenango state, Atitlán District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 20+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Maragogype (Maragogipe)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Classic bittersweet character with nuance.
Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy bittersweetness too.
Compare to: Excellent Guatemalan cup character, with balance, and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, apple note.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala San Jose Pinula -La Trinidad

I sorta stumbled on this farm through a couple people I was traveling with in Guatemala. I had cupped samples in Guatemala City and was impressed, and we were really excited to see this farm. (Since we aren't locals and don't get out to San Jose Pinula district every day, an area I had not seen before). The farmer is Armando Melgar, and he has been working on the farm and expanding the coffee production for some time. While he has planted many new Catuai trees, and the fermentation tanks laren't the most beautiful I have seen, he also has a remarkable part of the farm with a mix of beautiful old trees. There appears to be a ton of "Borbones", as well as an odd mix of other old varieties under heavy shade. By waiting for the late crop shipment, we felt like we would be getting coffees from these older, higher-altitude parts of the farm, and judging by the cup I think we certainly did. But what an unusual coffee too. It's not sweet, it's quite bittersweet and aggressive. It's like a real intense 75% cacao semisweet chocolate bar compared to supermarket milk chocolate. The dry fragrance is muted, but you can detect this chocolate character. The wet aroma has almond, almond skins and chocolate, which also really come through in the cup. It's not fruited, sweet or delicate, but what a nice classic cup profile in it's own right. This coffee is about body mainly, about balanced bittersweetness and brightness. And I have a suspicion that we have a strong influence of old cultivar here, and I have tasted this before in a nearby origin. We had a particular Panama that was literally all old growth, untended cultivars, a mix of this and that, planted many decades before. With both the La Trinidad and with that coffee, I found hints of Yemeni coffee in the cup, from across an ocean and centuries away. The cup has that heavily toasted almond character, austere bittersweetness, classic balance of flavors. There's good acidity, just a twist of lemon in the City roast, but it doesn't extend itself beyond the realm of the roast flavors much. You would notice if it wasn't there, for sure. I wouldn't call this coffee a heavyweight, a brooding cup, but next to a sweetly fruited Huehuetenango, it sure seems like one. I feel like this is a coffee an old school cupper from 50 years ago would call a great Guatemala coffee, classic, intense, restrained, structured and well-formed.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Paul Stauder and Armando Melgar stand over the wet-process fermentation tank at La Trinidad - from my trip in 2008.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Jose Pinula
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/Great structure, classic balance and bittersweet
Roast: I prefer a darker roast here, and this dense coffee can certainly take it: FC to FC+.
Compare to: Restrained and classic Guatemala cup profile. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango "Quetzal Azul"

This is a lot put together by a cupper in Guatemala, Roberto Stahl, of excellent SHB (strictly hard bean) Huehuetenango coffees. Quetzal Azul is a brand, referring to the national bird of Guatemala. The bad part of buying a coffee like this is I don't have access to good information about the farms that contributed to the lot, cultivar, altitude etc. In a way, Buying a coffee like this is anathema to what we do at Sweet Maria's. We want to trace great coffee to the farm, and develop transparent relations (we are calling it Farm Gate Coffee now, our form of direct trade, but we have always been doing it). But the fact is, I can't pass on a great cup! And Quetzal Azul is that. The dry fragrance is sweet and balanced between roast notes and slight floral qualities: it's like a toned-down San Jose Ocana. You can tell they are similar in other ways, despite being from different regions. They both have alot of Bourbon coffee, and they are both very high-grown and dense. The small rounded beans resist expansion in the roaster, staying tightly shut and well-formed through 1st crack. There is a floral dimension to this cup that elevates it above other Guatemala coffees. You can trace it from the dry fragrance through the wet aromatics, and into the cup flavors and aftertaste. In addition to floral fragrance, there is also a dark sweet berry, and brown sugar sweetness. The cup has all the above mentioned qualities, and a nice bittersweet chocolate finish that adds dimension to the cup. As it cools, there is a syrupy sweetness that emerges, and a touch of stone fruits (plum, nectarine). This is a coffee that you would call "well structured" in it's flavor profile.





View Cupping Scores
green coffee bean
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: August 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, some Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Floral and Berry sweetness, balance
Roast: City - Full City+: The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter.
Compare to: Classic super-high grown Guatemala, akin to the excellent San Jose Ocana, La Maravilla and El Injerto Bourbon lots.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Finca San José Ocaña

This has been a favorite coffee at Sweet Maria's for several years now, and will be in the future. Even before we had a relationship with the farm, I had been trying to buy this lot for years, and it's one of my favorite Guatemala coffees, ever. The farm is from an original land grant of 1623, and the owners have now grown coffee here for 5 generations. It's a very Bourbon-like, high altitude coffee, and has an unusual roast dynamic. And as a confirmation of the great cup quality (not that it is needed here but ...) this farm won #2 spot in the 2007 Guatemala Cup of Excellence. (They didn't have any excess coffee to enter a lot in 2008). You can literaly see what a dense, high-grown coffee it is as you roast it: small, dense little seeds that almost seem to shrink like raisins, the creases deepending and darkening, before it reaches Full City roast. That comapct form, tight crease, and resistence to expansion hints at Bourbon cultivar (there is some Catuai in the mix), and slow, steady maturation on the tree. That's what happens when you grow coffee way up at 1900 meters. I found this coffee has a very wide range of roasts that have great results, from a light City roast through Full City +. It's a very high-grown, dense seed (I think Bourbon cultivar also has greater denisity than other types, which greatly improve the way the coffee absorbs and distributes heat in the roast chamber). The lighter roasts have a punctuated fruitiness to them, bright tannic grape, floral aromatics, and sweet malt syrup roast taste. I really enjoyed watching this coffee take on a bit more color, passing into the Full City range, but not into 2nd crack at all. Here there is a unique balance between chocolate, toffee and raisin sweetness, with clove spice hints, concord grape, berry, and a floral flavor (I know, we don't eat/drink flowers for the most part, but the finish has a strong floral, almost rose-like aspect to it, like a potpourri). Anyway, as a cupper, this coffee exudes immense cup quality, as a roaster you can see that dense, tight-fisted little bean take on heat and color just beautifully, and as a guy who just likes a great cup of coffee, this is one I take home on the weekend.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
The drying patio at San Jose Ocana, taking the dried parchment coffee off for bagging.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: San Juan Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: Late, Late June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, some Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Excellent aromatics, sweetness, complexity, structure.
Roast: City - City+ to FC+ The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter. At this lighter level, the coffee won't look as pretty as it does at FC+, more surface texture and patchy coloration. City roast (even lighter) is more fruity, but the body is a little lacking.
Compare to: Classsic super-high grown Guatemala. It reminds me of the Finca El Injerto pure Bourbon. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing tranparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Cup of Excellence #1 -El Injerto

Things got a little crazy at the auction for the top lot of coffee at the 2008 Guatemala Cup of Excellence. Sweet Maria's was in a buying group with the main bidder, Stumptown, and Maruyama Coffee from Japan. We had to get this coffee. But there was a powerful and unrelenting bidder out there, somewhere, someone with very deep pockets. That's where the craziness came in. And don't be shocked when I tell you it was Target. Yes ... THAT Target. Via a large roaster called CBI, Target wanted to make a statement and crash the party, get a lot of press, pay a lot of money, buy a coffee that (in my opinion) was the best Cup of Excellence lot of the season. We didn't know it then, but afterwards our group felt vindicated; we prevented the big guys from pillaging a treasured lot of coffee that each of us has bought for years and years. It was the highest CoE price of the year. Was it worth it (beyond vindication, beyond having a story to tell)? Well, when I cup this coffee I say, unequivocally, YES! This lot was prepared only from the large-bean Pacamara cultivar planted at the well-known farm El Injerto. This is a farm I visited from way back around 8 years ago, and that Stumptown has shared with us this year. Most of the coffee is planted between 1500 and 2000 meters, on a farm that dedicates a huge portion of its total land to an uncut old-growth forest. Pacamara means Pacas X Maragogype, the later being the large bean mutation that occurred spontaneously in Brazil 80 years ago. Pacas is a Bourbon hybrid that came from El Salvador in the '50s. Pacamara can be a little hard to roast due to the large bean size. I also note that this coffee passes from City+ to FC+ quickly, and with a proper rest time (72+ hours) the lighter roasts can be the best. The dry fragrance at C+ is complex, floral (violet), with layers of fruit (Rambutan, Lychee). The wet aromatics have tea, root beer and mulling spice suggestions, with some lingering fruited citrus. In the cup, the aromatic clues are realized in apple cider notes, spice (cinnamon, black pepper), sarsaparilla and a dark brown sugar sweetness that remains well into the aftertaste. As it cools there is a touch of dry black currant, mint and fig. The Injerto Pacamara is unique in the way it relates to other Pacamaras from El Salvador or Nicaragua. It's clean, sweetly fruited, spicy. Pacamaras grown at lower altitudes can be more herbaceous, oniony (salad onion or scallions usually) and a bit more muddled in the flavors ... less articulate. At FC roast the body is really velvety, with creamy chocolate truffle flavors, but the cup is less dynamic. The City and City+ roasts have a wrinkled bean appearance, not as pretty as FC or FC+, but with proper rest I think the cup is fantastic.

Update 5/27/09: I have had the opportunity to cup our Hacienda Esmeralda Gesha vac pack lots (#2, #10) from last year against the new crop, and was surprised at the quality of the '08 coffees. I took the most expensive coffee from the '09 auction home for the weekend, and brewing it every which way, I made coffee I thought was "nice" but nothing that really popped out, nothing I would pay $117 a pound for! It made me think about what I really would pay for a very special coffee, and during the long Memorial Day weekend I came up with a figure, $45 per pound, as a reasonable amount for really top notch, award winning coffee. At that rate, each cup is about $2, which seems like a fair price. And if I roasted a batch that really "nailed it on the head" and another that was a shade too dark, or too light, I wouldn't be all broken up about it. So I decided, given the fact we have a few expensive coffees in vacuum pack that are not selling in this down economy, why not have a $45/Lb. sale? We are offering our formerly $125 Panama Esmeralda Gesha Lot 2 for $45/Lb (without the pound of Lot 10 we were previously pairing it with). We bought only about 300 pounds of Esmeralda in the auction this year. We have cupped all of these vacuum pack coffees and they are fresh as they day they came in!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
The stream at El Injerto, from a trip to Guatemala I took way back in 2001.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: Nov 2008 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-20 Screen
Varietal: 100% Pacamara Cultivar (Large Bean)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balanced and Complex; layered fruit, floral, spice.
Roast: City - City+ is preferred, the most dynamic cup. I like the smooth chocolate truffle at FC+, but the floral notes of the City+ roast are diminished greatly. This is a little difficult to roast. It's a large bean (cut back on the quantity a bit in an air roaster) and passes from 1st to 2nd crack quickly. Attend to the roaster!
Compare to: Unique Pacamara cup, cleaner and more floral than standard Pacamara coffees.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Oriente Dry-Process

This is about as unusual as it gets; a full natural, sun-dried coffee from Guatemala. What does this mean? Basically, that a traditional Ethiopia dry-process was performed at a traditionally wet-process origin. The ripe coffee cherry is picked from the tree when the fruit ripens to a rich, red-crimson color. Then, instead of beginning the wet-process by depulping (removing the skin) and fermenting the cherry for 12-24 hours, this ripe coffee cherry is simply laid out on the sunny patio to dry. With all the skin and fruit of the coffee fruit intact, it dries like a raisin, the mucilage turning to a sweet, chewy, dehydrated form, encoating the green seed protected by its parchment layer. Once fully dried, it is left to rest for some days, then in one step the skin, dried fruit flesh, parchment layer and all are torn from the green seed. The result is something between an Ethiopia coffee a chocolate-covered fruit bomb. I evaluated this on a table of dry-process Yemen and Ethiopian coffees and the dry-fragrance alone dominated not just the table, but the entire room. If you love this flavor profile, this level of intensity will please you greatly ... and if you dislike this type of coffee, it will drive you insane. It starts with the overwhelming power of the dry fragrance, with intense dark chocolate rounded out by fruity/red wine/balsamic vinegar scents. The wet aromatics follow suit, with the addition of strong melon and papaya notes ... these come through directly in the cup flavors. The potent chocolate flavors at FC to FC+ roast are so strong ... I don't think those who like milk chocolate are going to go for this flavor. It's for people who can down a 75% cacao dark chocolate bar with no problem, and the aftertaste has that fat, waxy bitter-to-bittersweet effect of a potent chocolate bar too. Other flavors are tobacco, hints of cedar, dry black fig, black licorice and a whiff of smoke. This coffee is all bass note, and has very, very low acidity. If you have found aged Sumatra coffees to your liking, or if you were adventurous enough to try India Anohki Liberica, you will be very happy with this cup! And those who like dry-process Ethiopians and Yemens should be pleased too. Just don't expect anything like your typical Guatemala in the cup!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Whole coffee cherry on the patio, drying for natural process coffee.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Oriente
Processing: Dry-Processed
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica, Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Heavy body, fruited notes,
Roast: Full City+ has best cup for the full-body-plus-chocolate character, whereas City+ features the fruited notes. We noticed a late 1st crack on this coffee, about 8-10 degrees after similar lots, which can be confusing while roasting this.
Compare to: Fairly incomparable - similar to the pulp natural Centrals of the more rustic type. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Guatemala Huehuetenango WP Decaf

This is a water process decaf that was sent directly to the decaffeination plant in Mexico from the highlands of Huehuetenango department. It's not an estate lot, but a mix of farms. Yet it retains typical Huehue character, and tastes like a good, non-decaf Huehue lot. The dry fragrance has apple ester notes and hazelnut. Sometimes this fruitiness is the result of the decaf process, and shouldn't be there in the aromatics, but in this case it is from the coffee: it comes through in the wet aromatics too. In addition, the aroma is very sweet, and in the cup flavors the theme is continued ... classic cup character tinted with fruit and nut accents. I get a slight raspberry note in the City+ roast, and overall the character is bright, lively and high-toned. The aftertaste is brief, clean and pleasant, while the body is,as with most nice Guatemala coffees, light-to-medium. Overall, this cup echoes perfectly it's non-decaf counterpart, and has good Huehuetenango origin character.





View Cupping Scores
View of the coffee area, under shade tree canopy, in Huehue.
Country: Guatemala
Grade: SHB
Region: Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Process, then water process decaf
Arrival Date: August 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Catuai, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Good brightness, fruit and nut notes
Roast: City+ is the most lively, Full City and darker have good tangy chocolate notes.
Compare to: Non-decaf Huehuetenango lots.
View Cupping Scores