Guatemala in Five Days

Recently I had the pleasure to take a farm tour to Guatemala. 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, processing or the people? If you said all of the above you are right. Continue reading for my report on Antigua and Atitlan.
Having landed in the thriving capitol of Guatemala City, I wondered out loud how did it get so big? Where did all the people come from? For years there has been a mass exodus from the country to the city, as commodity prices dipped. For years people needed to earn a living and the city filled the void. After making a quick stop to our exporter’s office, we cupped 25 plus coffees and then rated them and later in the week we would see the farms that produced these beautiful cups of coffee.
Our first stop was the Lake Atitlan area and I think it is one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala with massive volcanoes and 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 with pipes stretching from the lake over the mountains to the farm. I can’t imagine how this was achieved back in the day. This farm is amazing. There was an explosion from the volcanos from above that covered the farm in eight feet of mud. It is the rockiest soil I have ever seen and they take about a third of the crop and prune it every year. With a new nursery they are slowly expanding this great farm. The concrete drying patios are football field size and must look amazing with 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 being 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 rest of the year.
Next month Guatemala Part II – the biggest farm I have ever walked thru.