One of the finest lots we have tasted from this year’s Huehuetenango harvest, with soft berry jam notes
Producer: Maria Ramirez
Altitude: 2100 masl
Harvest: March 2021
Optimal brew: Filter 4-30 days | Espresso 10-60 days.
RRP for 250g: 149 kr.
RRP for 1 kg: 564 kr.
Maria Ramirez and her family have been working in the coffee industry for many years, mainly as hired labourers for landowners around Huehuetenango. Over this time, they were slowly able to save, eventually purchasing a 0.7 hectare plot around 10 years ago. It was here that they built An’chavin’a, named for a local food plant known as chipilin in English. Nowadays the whole family work on this tiny plot, growing 100% Caturra alongside a few food crops for the family. They have distilled their years of experience working on the farms of others into this project, growing truly delicious coffee on a very small scale and with very minimal specialist equipment. This lot is one of the finest and most characterful we have tasted from Huehuetenango, and in our opinion this could be for one of several reasons. The farm lies at extremely high altitude, at around 2100 masl, leading to very cool night time temperatures, and therefore slow developing and more complex tasting coffee cherries with high levels of intrinsic sugar. Growing 100% of a high quality varietal like Caturra can also lead to higher quality lots. Finally, Maria and her family have a rather complex and exacting method of processing coffee, based on a washed process like so many in this region. The coffee is first fermented dry for 48 hours after depulping, a rather long period, but in cool and humid conditions like those high in the Huehuetenango mountains, this doesn’t result in over-fermentation. The coffee is then washed thoroughly, removing any of the remaining sticky mucilage layer, before being soaked in clean water for a further 24 hours. This allows for an extra sorting step for floaters, and equalises the moisture content before being taken for drying on traditional patios. Similarly to the double soak processes often used in Kenya, it is also thought that this extra soak softens the cup profile, leading to a full and jammy berry fruit profile, with an interesting creamy yoghurt-like base.
Huehuetenango is located in the north-western highlands of Guatemala, and borders with Mexico. It is home to the highest altitudes in all of Central America, due to the presence of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountain range, which peaks at 3837 masl. This creates lots of high altitude land to grow high-quality coffee, an important crop in an area where agriculture is the largest industry. A dry hot wind also blows in from the Tehuantepec plain in Mexico to the north, which protects crops from frost, allowing coffee to grow even higher up the slopes, often above 2000 masl. These high altitudes also lead to very beautiful scenery, something the area is known for, but also to a remoteness not found elsewhere in Guatemala. 9 different ancient Mayan dialects are still spoken here, and the region is home to some of the best preserved examples of Mayan architecture. The remoteness also makes sourcing coffee a challenge here, the journey to farms often takes days over unforgiving terrain, and would-be coffee buyers require knowledge of the local dialects, or an experienced guide. We have visited our Guatemalan partners at Primavera for the past three years, and have been stunned by the beauty of both the coffees they have been sourcing, and of this captivating region.