People have been farming the land in Huehuetenango for thousands of years. Traditional farming techniques include using manure from their sheep for organic fertilizer, rotating land to give the soil time to recover and harvesting communally. Farmers have also traditionally planted a wide variety of crops in a way that best utilizes the sharp altitude changes along Huehuetenango’s steep slopes.
Thanks to the region’s unique location, which brings in hot air from the west and cool air from the north, farms in Huehuetenango are able to cultivate coffee at heights that often exceed 2,000 meters above sea level. These conditions help produce the dazzling acidity and lively fruit notes so beloved in coffees from the region.
Harvest & Post-Harvest
Due to its remoteness, most producers in Huehuetenango process their own coffee. Fully washed home processing is the most common method.
Farmers selectively hand-pick cherry and pulp it on their farms, usually with small hand-powered or electric drum pulpers. After fermenting, parchment is agitated to remove the remaining mucilage and washed with clean water. All water used during pulping and washing will be filtered – usually through earthen holes – so that the organic solids do not contaminate local waterways.
Farmers typically lay parchment to dry on raised beds that are stacked on top of each other to maximize space. Patios are also frequently used.
The coffee is evaluated for quality before finalizing the purchase at their purchasing site in Huehuetenango City. After purchase, parchment is sent to the dry mill where it rests until it is milled and prepared for export.