Tradition, Diversity & Measured Innovation Elevate Guatemala Coffees

< img aria-describedby ="caption-attachment-21479"loading= "lazy"class="wp-image-21479 size-large"src=""

alt width=” 1024″height=” 768″srcset =” 1024w,×225.jpg 300w,×576.jpg 768w,×1152.jpg 1536w,×188.jpg 250w, 2048w “sizes=” (max-width: 1024px)100vw, 1024px”> Women taking a break while operating in a coffee nursery on a Guatemalan farm. Thanks To Kenneth Davids. While some individuals in the specialty coffee market still describe the “traditional Central America cup,”efficiently lumping together the diverse coffee-producing nations of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, it is more the trend now to make increasingly fine differences among these origins in terms of varieties, processing, and cup profiles particular to each. Single-origin coffees are the main chauffeur of sales in

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the specialty market, and this month, we take a look at the coffees of Guatemala, something we haven’t carried out in report format because 2013. When Coffee Review editor Kenneth Davids surveyed the landscape of Guatemala coffees more than 20 years earlier, the styles that emerged were growing area, roast level, and the efforts of Anacafe, the Guatemalan Coffee Association founded in 1960, to frame the country as a unique and worthy competitor in the specialized coffee arena after decades of civil war. In 1990, “Guatemalan Coffees” was launched as the top quality name of an increasing specialty coffee output, and in 2018, coffee was acknowledged by the Guatemalan federal government as an “Intangible Heritage of the Nation” for its contribution to the nationwide economy and its historical rootedness in the culture.

By the time we released our 2013 Guatemala report, manufacturers were starting to experiment with planting different coffee ranges, however we didn’t see the processing experiments that were currently well underway in close-by Costa Rica. Perhaps battles with leaf rust decreased the speculative spirit, however it might just be that timeless washed coffees represented the Guatemala name well enough to satisfy both manufacturers and consumers.

How are things in 2021? In one sense, the story of coffee in Guatemala is like the story of specialty coffee across the globe: Coffee roasters, drinkers and importers are busy looking for the next terrific novelty. This impulse is part humanity, part the benefit of simple access to coffees from nearly anywhere. For coffee producers at origin, scratching that itch by offering unusual ranges or experimental processing methods can lead to greater premiums. However what was interesting about cupping the 52 coffees we got for this report is that standard varieties and processing techniques still seem to rule the Guatemala roost, a minimum of if we judge in regards to ratings.

Planting seeds in a Guatemalan coffee nursery. Thanks To Kenneth Davids. Of the 52 coffees we received for consideration, 33 were washed-process, 15 were natural-processed

, 2 were honey-processed, and two were processed anaerobically. The highest-scoring ten, which we review here at 92 to 96, are generally traditional washed-process, with 2 naturals. In terms of varieties of Arabica amongst the submissions, if we consider the standard ranges grown in Guatemala to be Bourbon, Caturra, Catuaí, Typica, Maragogype, Pache and Pacamara, then the only outliers we review here are two Geishas, both washed. Since its rediscovery in 2004 the Geisha range has actually been carried into every coffee growing area worldwide, or so it seems, prized for its abundant florality, focused fruit, and balanced structure. But it’s the standard ranges that control this month’s evaluations and scores.

Two Standout Washed Geishas Roasted in Taiwan

GK Coffee’s Sierra Roja Geisha, which rated 96, is a Geisha in technicolor– focused and positive with abundant florals throughout the cup– and it’s woman-farmed. Lorena Castillo Castellanos of Sierra Roja Farm, in the cloud forest of Sierra de las Minas, started farming her father’s shade-grown trees 2 years ago. Castellanos has a background in preservation and sustainability, worths she brings to Sierra Roja as she try outs brand-new varieties and processing methods.

For GK roaster Gary Liao, Guatemala is the embodiment of a classic producing area due to the fact that the coffees it produces represent a range of sensory expression, which helps him best his own sensory training in identifying particular coffee varieties. Geishas from the highlands, he states, are unmistakable for their abundant floral sweet taste and high-toned level of acidity. (He likes this Sierra Roja as cold-brew, as well as filter coffee.)

Another Taiwanese roaster, woman-owned Green Stone Coffee, submitted a beautiful washed Geisha that’s likewise from the high-altitude, Geisha-friendly Sierra de las Minas region. This coffee, which scored 93, is extremely fruit-driven with notes of passion fruit and spicy florals.

Of this coffee, Green Stone owner and educator Kelly Wang says she likes the brilliant, well balanced acidity that high-grown Geishas can provide. She especially appreciates fourth-generation farmer Teodoro Engelhardt’s vision to create a farm representing a self-sustainable environment in the micro-climate of a tropical rainforest.

The Many Faces of Classic Washed Varieties

The heart of our own experience cupping through more than 50 Guatemala coffees from all over the country resided particularly in the success of timeless varieties processed by the standard washed approach. What’s intriguing is that the leading six cleaned, non-Geisha samples we evaluate here, varying from 92-94 in score, were grown in four various regions: Huehuetenango (in the northwest highlands), Fraijanes (a south-central plateau), Lake Atitlan (in the southwest), and Lake Amatitlán (south of Antigua). And almost all of the traditional ranges are represented here; just Maragogype is missing out on.

Freshly launched from the fermentation tank, coffee beans at a standard Guatemalan mill are”washed”or cleaned up of fruit residue in a channel of moving water. Courtesy of Kenneth Davids. Of these classic coffees, San Diego’s Nostalgia Coffee Roasters’Guatemala La Voz made the leading score at 94. Owner-roaster Taylor Fields says this coffee was originally selected for Nostalgia’s Memory Lane blend, however the group loved it so much that they decided to offer it as a single-origin choice. Consisted of Typica, Bourbon and Caturra, the cup profile shows both deep chocolate and high-toned citrus notes. Grown near the shores of well-known Lake Atitlan, this coffee is produced by smallholding members of La Voz que Clama en el Desierto cooperative, whose production is extremely concerned throughout the nation for its clearness and brightness.

Iconic farm El Injerto is understood for its early adoption of a policy of not supplementing its own production by purchasing coffee in parchment from other farms. This policy developed what is basically an “estate” coffee, similar to an estate white wine, with the Aguirre household controlling every step, from planting to milling and every other stage along the method. Women-owned Equator Coffee, based in San Rafael, California, sent us El Injerto’s cleaned Pacamara (93 ), a beautiful example of this inherently sweet tasty range, highly bittersweet (think hop flowers) and deeply chocolaty with a full, thick body. El Injerto lies in what is maybe Guatemala’s most well-known growing region, Huehuetenango, on the slopes of the main range of mountains, where soils are primarily clay and elevations range from 3,000-6,000 feet, permitting a broad series of expression.

Equator’s Director of Coffee Ted Stachura states, “The Aguirre household has a laser-focused method to brand-new varieties and processing methods. When experimentation is complete, the resulting coffee they are able to produce is of the highest quality. If the results of their testing doesn’t reveal great prospective, they do not bother providing those types. Pacamara has a proven track record on the farm and we are now purchasing a little quantity of this coffee every year.”

Another Huehuetenango coffee, a Pache grown in Santa Barbara, was submitted by States Coffee (93 ). Owner Keith Gehrke states of Guatemala coffees, in basic: “I truly fell in love with coffee from Guatemala back in 2007 when I satisfied Edwin Martinez from Finca Vista Hermosa. His coffee was fantastic, and he ended up being a friend. That was also the first time I was a head roaster for a company. So, a classic and extremely remarkable experience for me now. Guatemala coffees have such a fantastic balance in the cup, along with body and sweet taste, so that if I needed to pick just one origin to purchase permanently, I would most likely select Guatemala.” This Pache exemplifies Gehrke’s observation with its vibrantly sweet, discreetly complex profile. Pache is a natural dwarf anomaly of Typica, found in Guatemala in 1949.

Lastly, Denver-based Novo Coffee Roasters sent an El Mirador (93 ), also from Huehuetenango. This mix of Caturra, Catuai and Bourbon grown by smallholding farmers is crisply chocolaty with undertones of sweet herbs.

One entry from the Fraijanes Plateau, an area that began exporting in earnest to the U.S. only in the last two decades, comes from Kakalove Café in Chia-Yi, Taiwan. It’s thought that because much of the soil in this area is volcanic, coffees grown in Fraijanes display distinctively well balanced level of acidity, which is definitely real of this coffee, a Yellow Catuaí (93 ). Owner-roaster Caesar Tu says that Oscar Pimentel’s farm is mainly experimental microlots, but due to the fact that of shipping delays connected to Covid-19, his selection for importing to Taiwan was quite minimal, so he felt fortunate to find this sweet, dynamic, resonant cup, the embodiment of a daily-drinker.

< img aria-describedby ="caption-attachment-21470"loading="lazy" class="wp-image-21470 size-large"src=""

alt width =”1024″ height= “768 “srcset =” 1024w,×225.jpg 300w,×576.jpg 768w,×1152.jpg 1536w,×188.jpg 250w, 1884w”sizes= “(max-width: 1024px )100vw, 1024px”> Charlotte, North Carolina’s Magnolia Coffee uses this Guatemala Finca San Gerardo. Thanks To Magnolia Coffee. Completing the best of the timeless submissions is Charlotte, North Carolina-based Magnolia Coffee’s Finca San Gerardo Bourbon(92), a deep-toned floral and nutty cup grown in the Lake Amatitlán area of south-central Guatemala, simply south of Guatemala City(and not to be confused with the bigger Lake Atitlan). Owner Jay Gestwicki has actually been purchasing green coffee from this farm for a number of years. He says he was looking for “an exceptional everyday drinking coffee” with clear chocolate notes and great deals of subtlety, and this coffee fits the bill.

2 Compelling Natural-Processed Coffees

The variety of natural-processed coffees we evaluate at Coffee Review has gradually increased, year by year. In the context of Central America, Guatemala might be far less abundant in experiment than Costa Rica, El Salvador and certainly Panama in terms of getting on the “cool train” of anaerobic processing, however naturals– coffees that have actually been dried in the entire fruit– appear to be coming on strong. Of the 15 natural-processed coffees we received for this report, two scored 92, which we evaluate here: Taiwan-based Qin Mi Coffee’s Acatenango Pacamara Natural and Plat Coffee’s Finca Granada Natural.

The previous represents yet another growing area, Acatenango, whose sandy soils are enriched by minerals from regular volcano eruptions nearby, perhaps motivating coffees that show mouthwatering tones along with sweet. Qin Mi’s Pacamara is easily fruity and highly bittersweet. The Plat Finca Granada is a Bourbon-Caturra mix from Huehuetenango with notes of pie cherry, lavender, and cocoa nib. Plat’s Raymond Cheung likes Guatemala naturals for the value they use, while Qin Mi’s roaster “Hank” chose this specific natural from 40 Guatemalas he blind-cupped.

Qin Mi’s roaster “Hank” selected an Acatenango Pacamara natural from 40 Guatemala coffees he blind-cupped. Courtesy of Qin Mi Coffee.

Balance, Familiarity, Quality

The biggest takeaway from our cupping is that Guatemala is a go-to origin for well balanced coffees of a style we like and acknowledge, whose quality is high across the board, and whose innovation is measured and mostly successful.

This post was inspired by the article at Coffee Review, a website specializing in coffee reviews, espresso ratings, informative articles, and coffee blogs written by coffee experts.

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