Finca Candeleria and a Spouting Volcano
Arriving in Guatemala and straight to Antigua, we quickly headed to visit farms and mills. Our first stop, Finca Candeleria. As we were relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery on the top of the farm at the base of the Fuego Volcano, we heard a rumble, felt the ground shake, and saw the mountain spew its awesome smoke. It was like watching a movie- surreal. This is not only an active volcano; it’s alive and quickly puts into perspective we are visiting volcanic country. Cherries were still covering the top of the farm and rain last week already created flowing at various spots on the farm. Farmer Luis Pedro said since it started to flower, he was hoping for more rain, but only on this farm as others have barely begun picking.
Saturday was another awesome time as I spent most the day with Guillermo Sanchez at Finca Covadonga. This is the coffee which received 93 points from Ken Davids and has been my favorite coffee at home. The farm was great, the cherries sweet and ripe, bees are used to pollinate the flowing, but best of all was spending the day with Guillermo and learning all about his family and the farm. Amongst the items I learned from Guillermo was that his family has been growing coffee for five generations and own another farm: San José Ocaña. This farm was the 2007 Cup of Excellence 2nd place winner and one we purchased. It’s no wonder Covadonga has the quality controls to produce such a great cup. I also learned the farm is at a higher elevation than we report on our website and starts at 1600 meters and climbs. The entire crop is covered in Gravilea shade trees (common in Guatemala). And sandwiched around our time with Guierrmo was cupping, over 40 coffees in all. Many were exciting new lots from small producers that will be making their way to Klatch this year.
El Retiro de Quisaya
In the forest of San Martin Jilotepeque, lies the old house and El Retiro. It seems so strange to be driving through pine trees and coffee but that was the case. Picking had just started and today was the first day for our Bourbon Varietal, though not a Klatch Exclusive, we buy 80% of the coffee beans from this farm. And while the coffee is full with a sweet orange flavor and a rich chocolate body, that’s not only what makes this farm special. The difference here is the people, the environment, and Juan Luis’ commitment to continually improving the farm, and this year is no exception. As the workers headed out to begin picking, I realized how many people the customers who buy this coffee from us support. The cherries were full and ripe and the workers were happy as their daily yield would be big. Our own Liz tried her hand at picking and quickly learned how difficult a job it was.
Walking the farm, the fruit trees I saw in the nursery last year have been planted, wild berries grow all over, and 60 year old trees that were stumped two years ago are already looking great and producing fruit. But the big news is the new wet mill being built at the farm. A spring inside the mountain feeds this wet mill that includes water recycling and purification. Although not a big mill, it includes patio’s and covered storage enough for his farm. While not operational yet, Juan Luis is expecting to run tests soon so he can process all our coffee next year right at the farm. El Retiro is also being certified by UTZ for greater traceability and quality control.
I also learned of social programs including the building of a computer lab for the local school and supplying of books as well. In addition, Juan Luis donated 10% of his Cup of Excellence money to Agatha victims and has plans for a community washing station that will result in more clean water for the community. Definitely they are doing things right.
We have been cupping so many lots from variety of estates and small producers we will have a difficult time picking the best of the best. Cupping till past 9pm every day but Sunday was very fun and exciting as we found many gems. I will have to tell you more later as it’s almost 1:00am and I have another cupping at 7:30 in the morning.