Harvest season here in Guatemala is at full throttle at the moment. However, as we’ve mentioned in one of our previous blogs on how to promote Guatemalan coffees, our country has 8 distinguished regions, over 360 microclimates, and a wide diversity of unique landscapes that affect its coffee production; all of which affect the harvest season due to elements such as elevation and temperature (E.g. at higher altitudes, cold weather slows down coffee plant development). This is clearly noticeable when you look at the harvest periods for Huehuetenango for example, where the harvest starts later in the year in January and ends in April, according to Anacafé. Most regions’ harvest starts around November/December and ends around March.
Due to this volatility in harvesting, which can also differ from farm to farm, we took the opportunity to go on our harvest tour a few weeks ago, when most producers are already harvesting and processing coffees and getting them ready for export or local consumption. That way we can visit any region and it’s guaranteed we would see the farms packed with bright red cherries ready to be picked and carried to the mill! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the video highlights we posted on our Instagram, but we’ll give you the full breakdown of our visits below!
Harvest tours with Los Amigos
So, everything started with the right foot forward. Our friend Matthieu from Volt Café joined us for our visits to our current and potential producing partners, shortening the bridge between the consumption and production ends of the value chain (that it itself is a win, wouldn’t you agree?). Throughout the week we visited our friends from Montenegro Farms, Finca Santa Isabel, Finca La Bella among others. As exhausted as we were by the end, we’re more excited about what’s to come this harvest season!
The tour kicked off with a visit to Finca Santa Isabel, home to our organic and biodynamically produced coffees. Alex and Martin Keller hosted us for the day and showed us around. Throughout our tour, we visited the farm’s compost piles, where organic material decomposes to provide a nutrient boost to the farm’s biodynamic preparations that will go on to nurture and supplement coffee plant growth and development. Of course, the world of biodynamics is extensive so we dug deep into each preparation and application of the field.
However, no visit is complete without a cupping session trying out Alex’s new, exciting offerings as well as his brother’s innovative project with tea. We could have never imagined that we would be cupping teas such as Chaya, Hibiscus, and fermented coffee leaves, flowers, and cascara! Truly a unique experience.
Following up, we visited our partners at Montenegro Farms, the masterminds behind our offerings from Finca La Labor and Finca Vizcaya, where Chespi and his team walked us through the newly renovated portions of the farm as well as their actively harvesting fields. However, their amazing work doesn’t stop there, with exciting new natural, honey, and washed coffees coming soon. Oh, and did we mention their innovative fermentation processes? The Montenegro team has come up with coffees undergoing anaerobic fermentation for up to 100 hours, which leads to new and exotic cupping notes!
Our last stop was at Sierra de las Minas, where we visited Finca La Bella. Teodoro, the owner, is the person in charge of both our coffees from here as well as White Flag Coffee’s community blend. His constant pursuit of innovation leads to sensational coffees year after year, so we’re beyond excited to try out his new harvest.
Of course, no tour is concluded without a visit to the mill to see how the coffees are being processed and prepared for export!
Freshly picked coffee cherries are commonly processed on the same day and depending on the process, drying can take up to a few weeks. Shortly after processing, dried parchment can be stored for up to several months. However, the dry milling process is only initiated once we are preparing the coffees for export. So you could be expecting your new harvest of Guatemalan coffees at your roasters within the next three months!
Exciting Changes to Come
We’re excited to announce that at the beginning of this year we decided to switch up most of our jute bags for upcycled denim 69 kg. bags. We took up this initiative to help reduce our carbon footprint and create more local opportunities here in Guatemala as we won’t be importing bags from India or China for example, and of course, we will be turning a common waste product into raw material. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on the subject, but we’re more than excited to be taking this step towards a more sustainable and responsible operation.
Speaking of responsible operations, we have always worked to establish fully transparent relationships between our producing partners and our roasting partners. If you’re interested in sourcing some of Guatemala’s most innovative coffees, make sure to check out our website and reach out to us. This harvest season we’ll be enjoying some new exciting lots, so we’d love to tell you all about them!
Want to request some samples? click here.
Looking forward to hearing from and working with you!