Big Country Series: 3. GUATEMALA
In our Big Country series we go to Central America today for our favorite blend coffee country, Guatemala.
When starting Caffenation we had from time to time a classic Antigua Pastoral coffee. This coffee was and is very popular with traditional Belgian coffee roasteries. It is famous for its fat body, little bit of spices, low acidity and good blending qualities.
It took a couple of years and roasting ourselves before our interest moved more and more towards the Huehuetenango region. Here we find, thanks to the higher located farms, much cleaner coffees, although less known for body. Nice subtle mouthfeel, good balanced, low acidity and very stable over time we use the conventional lots for our Roast ED and the better lots for Mr LGB and Single Origin Espresso or even Filter.
This year we bought besides a classic Huehuetenango coffee (Finca La Montana/Rudy Garcia) a more 'chocolate' lot from the Fraijanes region (Finca El Carrizal) and, after a very succesful 2017 entree, again shitloads of Red De Mujeres, also from Huehuetenango and a very specially harvested coffee.
Processing: In general we see, equally to neighboring countries, classic fully washed coffees. Since a couple of years we see honey or dry/natural processed coffee popping up though. Another very special kind of coffee is the Red De Mujeres coffee we bought for a second consecutive year. This coffee had all kind of label (organic, fairtrade) and has been produced by a network of women, but most special is the taste. It's super sweet and although it has a light 'natural' taste profile it is as clean as a 'washed' coffee. How is this possible?
The Red De Mujeres is a unique coffee that is only picked after a very long period of tree ripening. The cherries are only picked when the sugar content is peaking. After this extra long maturing the processing is going the same way as regular washed coffees. This way of processing gives the coffee less spectacular flavors then the best natural ones, but it is easier to blend and also works better with milk. The marriage of milk with some natural processed (extra fermented) coffee can be troublesome, as if the milk became sour. The RDM doesn't give this problem.
Varietals: Most popular in Guatemala are Pache, Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra and Typica.
98% of Guatemala’s coffee is shade-grown. Shade-grown coffee is associated with a lot of benefits. These range from increased biodiversity and consequently healthier land to the slower ripening of coffee cherries which can lead to denser beans and more complex flavours.
The harvest period runs from December to March/April, although there are some variations in different regions of the country.
At Caffenation we buy around 6000 kilo's of coffee from Guatemala. 10% only is roasted as a single origin espresso or filter. All the rest we blend; mostly with African counter parts.
A short word on blending: we are happy that blending coffees is winning some respect again. For a couple of years some 'purists' though it was a shame to blend coffees, but we see the advantages of doing so. Of course it all depends on what you have in your hands and what budgets you are talking about. A lot of Central American coffee lack some bright and acidic notes and blending these with more fruity and acidic African coffees marry's the best from both worlds and gives us also the opportunity to buy coffees that are more reasonable priced.