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2012 Sourcing Trip Part 5: Guatemala

by Mike Perry, CEO and Green Coffee Buyer

Following the exhausting but magical experience of Honduras I was ready to visit familiar friends and farms in Guatemala. Another early start with a 7am flight to Guatemala via El Salvador continued like my trip from LAX begun, with an upgrade to business class. But first a funny story, as I am getting off the plane in Guatemala I see a guy in the row in front of me wearing a Viva Espresso shirt. I ask if he is in the coffee business or just a fan, he looks at me and replies “your Heather Perry’s dad aren’t you?” He then introduces himself as David Makin, the two-time Australian Barista Champion who saw Heather compete in Tokyo and asked me to say hi… hi!

From the airport I was picked up and spent the rest of the day visiting farms in Antigua including Covadonga and Soladad. Fortunately we had an easy day and I checked into the hotel early for a good night's rest to start early the next morning. It was a good thing as we had lots to do before my flight at 8pm back to LAX.

First up, the drive to El Retiro in San Martin Jilotepeque to visit the farm and new mill. Klatch has been buying this great Guatemalan for many years but last year Juan Luis built a mill on the farm at 1770 meters. This is one of the highest mills with patios in Guatemala and if done properly can result in some great coffee. While the mill was built last year, this is the first full year of operation and I wanted to see how the operation was going. Right off the bat, I was completely impressed as the mill was spotless. But more importantly the beans! Starting with great picking, then great processing and procedures, the results were clean and wonderful beans. From the mill we toured the farm and trees.

From the farm we headed back to Antigua and the cupping lab. We had 40 coffees ready for us and I was thrilled to cup so many great lots. Luis Pedro has a great lab at the mill and every sample was perfectly roasted. While most lots were really good and sweet, those from Candeleria were not and did not score above 80 points. In talking to Luis Pedro, it seems there was a problem with Roya and the result were not the best coffee. The coffee of course will be sold but just not to Klatch. As the saying goes “all coffee has a home, just not my home."

After three countries and many coffee tables I head back home for a couple of days before leaving to Ethiopia.

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