Paola Merida cultivates this Bourbon and Pacamara lot on her farm, Finca Gardenia. The farm’s 15 hectares are located at 1,900 to 2,100 meters above sea level in Aldea Piache in the Huehuetenango region. The farm is about 45 minutes outside Huehuetenango City.
In addition to the Bourbon and Pacamara in this lot, Paola also cultivates Pache and Marsellesa.
Paola has dedicated a portion of the farm as protected forest area. This land is left uncultivated in order to allow native plants to grow. The native forestland provides a natural habitat for local animals and protects waterways.
Harvest & Post-Harvest
Paola and her family selectively handpick ripe, red cherry. Cherry is placed in sealed plastic drums and fermented anaerobically for 48 hours. Following fermentation, cherry is washed in clean water and placed on raised beds to dry. Cherry is turned frequently to ensure even drying. After 10 days, drying is slowed by moving cherry to parabolic dryers, where cherry continues to dry for another 10 to 12 days.
Huehuetenango is well-known for its high altitude and consistent weather patterns. The region lies at a nexus of hot air sweeping eastwards from the Plains of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico and cool air rushing down from the Cuchumantanes Mountains. The meeting of this hot and cold air creates a microclimate that keeps frost in check and enables coffee cultivation at higher altitudes: coffee production at 2,000 meters above sea level is common. These conditions are perfect for producing the sparkling acidity and distinctive fruit flavors of the region.
Coffee in Guatemala
Guatemala boasts a variety of growing regions and conditions that produce spectacular coffees. Today, the country is revered as a producer of some of the most flavorful and nuanced cups worldwide. We are proud to work with several exceptional in-country partners to bring these coffees to market.
The Guatemalan coffee industry experienced a major setback with the 2010 appearance of Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) in Latin America. The epidemic peaked in severity in 2012, and though CLR continues to affect some farms, Guatemala continues to produce high-quality, record-breaking coffees. In 2017, new and varied processing methods pushed prices at the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence contest to record highs.
The quality of coffee being produced in Guatemala is increasing, overall, due to the diversity of the industry’s producers. There are more and more small holder farmers producing exceptional coffee at high altitudes. Cooperatives are becoming more appealing to so many smallholders because they often offer farmers financing and other support for improving their farming and processing and are frequently able to offer higher prices for cherry than middlemen. Many cooperatives have initiated quality improvement training for farmer members and are becoming more adept at helping members market their coffee as specialty.