Guatemalan coffee is arguably the crown jewel of Central America. That doesn't not mean all Guatemalan coffees are good ... but it does means that the potential on the upside, the possibility of 88+ point coffees, is greater from regions in Guatemala than its neighboring countries. Great Guatemalan coffees have a bright cup character, floral hints, clean fruited notes, moderate body, and a lingering clean aftertaste. With varying qualities, farms ranging from huge estates to tiny small-holders perched on steep slopes, and different cup characteristics from within the same micro-regions, there is much to learn to appreciate the complexity of Guatemala coffee.
We currently offer these unroasted coffees:
This is a special 20 lbs sampler that consists of 4 different coffees, from Central and South America. With so many regions from these areas providing us with new crop coffees right now, it's a great opportunity for us to pass along variety and volume to our home roasters. Normally when you buy a 20 LB bag of coffee from us it has to be all one single origin or blend, so this is a nice way to split up some of that volume between a few different options. We put in a lot of work in Guatemala this year, so the sampler will consist of two Guatemalan coffees, as well as one-each selection from Brazil and El Salvador. Your coffee will ship in our regular mylar 5 LB zip bags, no fancy cloth bags like our full 20 LB bags.
Due to the special pricing for this sampler we cannot honor special requests nor accept returns. Thanks.
New crop Central American coffees are already here, and regions in South America are beginning to trickle in now. This means that we'll be working into new regions and lots as they arrive. And for now, here is an example of the lots you'll see included in this XL Sampler - Please keep in mind we will be doing the selecting and lots will come and go, but trust us, we'll pick 4 great lots along the lines of the following:
Antonio "Tono" Sanchez's farm is located in the Chichimes region of Huehuetenango. Antonio's been in the coffee trade as a buyer for over 40 years, but decided to buy his own farm, along with the help of his brother. They process their own coffee cherry as well as the coffee from many other small-holder farmers in the Chichimes region. This particular lot is only coffee grown on the Sanchez farm proper, which sits at a range of 1500 - 1800 meters and is planted primarily in Bourbon and Catuai, and Typica. We cupped quite a few amazing day lot samples from his farm and were lucky enough to put together a blended lot of significant proportion.
This lot from Tono Sanchez has a nice fruit syrup sweetness and is uniquely spiced all the way through. Grinding the coffee, smells of apricot and peach hang in the air along with notes of cinnamon and clove. Dark roasts have a layer of bittersweet chocolate that is slightly dominant in a good way. Hot water builds on the fruited sweetness and the aromatics remind me of fruit leather - condensed sweetness of fruit pectin. Breaking the crust releases a note of dark cacao as well as a scent of toasting sugars. The amount of fruit and cocoa tasted in the cup is impressive. Flavors of blackberry syrup, apple juice, and pear come to mind in the cooling cup. These flavors are immediately vying for attention against a growing presence of dark chocolate and cinnamon. It's a nice marriage of flavors which change places more than once into a sweet finish. Acidity is gentle but well defined, and with accents of malic fruits. Our dark roast had much more of a berry aspect as well as very high % cacao. These Full City/Full City+ roasts will make amazing single origin espressos.
Finca Santa Anita lies just below the town of Patzun, which is a subregion of Chimaltenango located within close proximity to Lake Atitlan. The road to the coffee producing area of Patzun is a beautiful one as, after climbing well above 2,000 masl, you slowly descend from the yellows and browns of corn growing country into a rather small, heavily shaded canyon which is home to this coffee. This area is one of the most well shaded that I've seen in Central America. The coffee trees are protected under an excellent canopy. Another unique aspect of this region is the heavy dose Typica varietals we've found planted among the Bourbon and Caturra. This most definitely lends to the also unique flavor profile we find in Patzun. Processing here is fairly standard as far as Guatemala is considered. After depulping the coffee beans are fermented up to 24 hours, washed in long channels and sun-dried on patios. On a side note, the farms from which we buy are Patzun coffee are home to some older, beautiful Mayan relics. They're something special and add an aura of the old world when visiting.
Santa Anita is a coffee that accentuates sweetness all the way through the cupping experience. The dry grounds have a sweet smell of honey (comb and all), ginger snap cookie, and a bit of toffee. Hot water brings up a slight cookie dough scent, with butter and brown sugar building in the steam, and the break produces a nice saturated dark toffee sweetness. At City+ roast level, this cup has a strong flavor of caramel and with a note of milk chocolate. Patzun is fruited and in a nice, sweet way. Nectarine and apricot nectar are expressed in both flavor and mouthfeel. The acidity is refreshing and with accents of malic fruits. The finish is honeyed and with a nice, bittering cacao nib flavor. This lot from Santa Anita demonstrates great body and is such a satisfying cup of coffee, and definitely hold it's own as an SO espresso too.
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! The crop was much smaller from Cabrejo this year, but the cup quality is outstanding again.
Cabrejo is a juicy coffee with much in the way of fruit complexity and sugar browning sweetness. The dry fragrance verges on floral and is intensely sweet with the smell of honey, along with slight hints of apricot, peach, and marzipan. Caramel notes play a large part in the wet aroma and is layered with suggestions of vanilla bean and cinnamon. It's such a sweet set of scents and provides accurate allusion to the cup profile. As a brewed coffee, Cabrejo has such clarity, and the compilation of flavors making up the profile are pristine in flavor and finish. Malic fruits such as red apple, Bosc pear, and plum are central fruited characteristics in the City to City+ roast range. Cabrejo has a honey sweetness that is expressed in flavor and also defines the silky mouthfeel. Sweet fruits continue to pop up as the cup cools, with notes of black currant and raisin to name a few, and really add to the overall complexity of this coffee's profile. This coffee finishes with an expression of prailine candy, which hangs around long in the aftertaste. Darker roasts are deliciously juicy with lots of fruit juice and dark chocolate. Full City roasts and beyond make great SO espresso as well - so viscous and sweet.
El Turbante is one of several small towns perched on the spine of a mountain in Huehuetenango. The area has produced some really nice coffees, but the opportunity finds its way to large farms who can market their coffee and enter competitions rarely spreads to their small-scale neighbors. We partnered with locals to try to reward these small farmers with better prices than they had ever seen, if they could grow and process coffee that meets our ideas of quality. This lot is testament to the fact that they could do it, and did do it. In the past the only options to local farmers was to sell the "coyotes" who drive around offering cash for coffee, or to sell the bigger farms and mills in the zone. But neither rewarded the farmer with a better price for quality coffee.
The dry fragrance of El Turbante has vanilla and toasted sugar, along with a very sweet smell of raw honey. Hot water brings up a smell of praline nut in the steam, with a mingling of butter and sugar caramelization. There is a smell of dark fruits as well that translates to red raisin on the break. This is a nice, sweet coffee with a range of acidity from tartaric (green grape) to malic (red pear). And while not 'explosive' by any means, the acidity remains clear and present from light to dark roasts. Fruits like raisin and plum are subtle and pleasing. El Turbante cools with a red apple sweetness along with an underlying flavor of green nut. The finish is sweet and with a nice bittering allusion to citrus rind. This is what we call 'approachable' in every sense of the word, and will also make a great dual-use coffee.
El Regalito is a newer farm in the region of Cuilco, Huehuetenango, that has come up from the hard work and supervision of the Villatoro family who are 2nd and 3rd generation coffee farmers. Regalito means "little gift." This particular farm is focused on "specialty" coffees, which is due in part to the prime conditions of Regalito's locale. The farm is situated in a valley between two steep mountain sides, providing perfect topography for growing coffee, and ideal shade provision from the surrounding natural forest. El Regalito is planted with a mix of Caturra and Bourbon varietals, and the altitude varies between 1,300 to just under 1,700 masl.
Aromatically, this lot from Regalito has a great mix of dry fruits and developed sugar sweetness. Grinding the coffee brings about a smell of dried apple and honey. Baking spices linger, especially in dark roasts, developing notes of clove and cinnamon. The wet grounds have a scent of vanilla and caramel, as well as an allusion to chamomile tea in the steam. This provides an accurate glimpse into the cup profile, with fruits building in the cooling cup. Date, currant, and golden begin to emerge. It has clean, crisp acidity that adds elegance. This coffee is very sweet, all the way through to the long aftertaste which is like caramel and toasted almond. Full City roasts retain much of the fruited profile found in lighter roasts, but with an accompanying flavor of dark chocolate. This is the kind of solid Guatemalan coffee that's not only "approachable", but "preferable" (to me)! This will work great as a SO espresso too.
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 mild, restrained, and with notes of milk chocolate and roasted almond. There's a refined sweetness that builds momentum when adding hot water. The wet aromatics have a pumpkin pie smell to them that is sweet, and spiced with nutmeg and all-spice. There is a sharper sweet scent in the break, like toasted caramel, along with a note of raw almond. 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. At City+, the flavors are sugary sweet, with a note of raw pistachio in the background. Apple and raisin pair with notes of cinnamon and other warming spices, and a hint of Zacapa shows between the caramel-vanilla and spice notes. There's a citric brightness at these lighter roast levels that is obscured by a dark chocolate 'tang' in dark roasts. In terms of this great balance of cup qualities, this is the expression of Bourbon cultivar all the way. This has always been one of our favorite Guatemalan SO espressos; lemon-zested chocolate velvet!