Recently I had the pleasure to take a Guatemala farm tour. Having not been there for six or so years I was excited to see how it changed. My first trip to Guatemala was back in 1990 when dictators ruled the city and rebels the countryside. I had only been in coffee for two years and needless to say I fell in love with the coffees of Guatemala. Is it the soil, the climate, the processing or the people? If you said all of the above you are right.
Guatemala City Growing
Having landed in the thriving capital of Guatemala City, I wondered out loud how did it get so big? Where did all the people come from?! For years, as commodity prices dipped there has been a mass exodus from the countryside into Guatemala City—people needed to earn a living and the city filled the void. After making a quick stop to our exporter’s office, where we cupped and rated 25+ coffees. Later in the week we would see first hand the Guatemalan farms that have produced these beautiful cups.
Lake Atitlan Region
After Guatemala City, our first stop was in the Lake Atitlan area. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the country with its massive volcanoes and plentiful lakes. How can you go wrong?! It is also home to one of the best coffees I have ever had from Atitlan—Finca Pompojila. This medium sized farm is a gem and owned by Alex Herrera and family. It is wedged between a volcano and a huge mountain range with Lake Atitlan behind it. It is irrigated with actual lake water using pipes that stretch from the lake over the mountains to the farm—I can’t imagine how this was achieved back in the day!
The Incredible Finca Pompojila
This farm is amazing. Centuries ago a volcanic eruption covered the farm in eight feet of mud. It’s the rockiest soil I have ever seen. Each year the family prunes back about a third of the crop. With a new coffee sapling nursery they are slowly expanding this great farm. The concrete drying patios are football field sized and must look amazing fully filled parchment! They are RFA Certified and have a new pond system that catches the water used in fermentation and, through crushed rocks and plants, naturally removes all the tainted water before it’s returned to the adjacent streams. The cup is nutty with a bit of oak and orange citrus feel. This coupled with a creamy, medium body and a good kick of acidity brought a BIG smile to my face. Get it quick. It just came in and we only have 100 bags for the whole rest of the year.
Next month: Guatemala Part II and the biggest farm I have ever walked thru!
Yours In Coffee,
Visit Us In Westlake Village
Feel free to email us anytime or call to speak with our friendly staff M-F, 8AM – 4:30PM PST about our Guatemala farm tour, our current stock of Guatemalan coffee and how we can help improve your roasting business. 800.761.JAVA