Healthy Green Coffee…? (What?)
I’ve been loving the direction this coffee took this year. It started with a great relationship, a bit of a risk, trusting in someone we really admire, Don Mainor, and a phenomenal coffee that represents a model in which we now want to use to show other farmers the success Don Mingo has had renovating his lots according to the advice of an Anacafe agronomist, Don Mainor.
Due to the naturally occurring bi-annual lower harvest year and the volcano eruption that occurred in early June of 2018, the production for La Cooperativa San Pedrana was a little bit lower this year and we found ourselves with 2.4 containers worth of Specialty Grade coffee when we were hoping to fill 3 containers.
Don Mainor, an Anacafe agronomist in Zone 3 of Guatemala, offered up a suggestion. Don Mainor had been working with 3 farmers in the Quisache and Acatenango area over the last 3 years and the objective of his work was to help these farmers renovate their lands in a way that would increase production, be more resistant to leaf rust, and consider cup quality at the same time. His suggestions that he gave covered topics like plant maintenance, dispersion of plants, and adding inputs at the right times of the year considering rainfall. After working with Don Mainor for these last 3 years, the one thing these farmers didn’t have was market access. It’d be like investing a lot of money into a home to later find out it’s still worth the same value. This often encourages farmers not to invest in their plots of land or renovate them in this way.
Don Mainor asked if we’d be interested in buying into these coffees because it would encourage these good farming practices, offer a stellar coffee, and honor/validate the work of these farmers. He realized that helping these farmers obtain market access through Yepocapa Coffee could start something really beautiful. So we were like, “Sure! Let’s go meet with these farmers and see what we can do!"
Quisaché has always been a community I’ve wanted to know more about. It’s literally about 5 minutes north of Yepocapa and most people there consider themselves Yepocapan even though technically they’re in the jurisdiction of Chimaltenango. Quisaché is a smaller village that shows it’s native Katchiquel roots a bit more. It’s calm, quiet, peaceful, and yet joyful. They have traditionally higher elevation single varietal Caturra or Catuai crop and most of what is picked is sold to coyotes since there’s not many wet mills nearby. We’ve always been interested in starting conversations with the farmers here about maybe entering in their coffees with La Cooperativa San Pedrana but we hadn’t gotten to that point yet till this year.
Don Mingo has been the farm manager for this area for over 30 years. It was really neat to talk with him about maturation. He knew that how he picked his coffees would potentially make or break his chances at having his lot enter our container and so he was really excited to have us come and talk about building this sort of relationship that would value his efforts in quality production. So he asked us to come visit him pre-harvest to show us his plans for ensuring peak maturation selection. Andrew Gough and Beau Harris from Reverie Coffee Roasters was with us on this visit and we even brought a refractometer to show the correlation between maturation and sugar content. It was a fun time. It was the first time Don Mingo had used a refractometer and he thought it was an incredibly cool device that could help him decide which days they’d go and pick their cherries. (It really is hard to know the difference between 19% Brix red and 22% Brix red.)
The conversations that took place there and during our other visits with him throughout the harvest really got me thinking. There seems to be this massive correlation between leaf rust and price. Most of the plants that get plagued with leaf rust is due to poor plant health, age of the plants, and/or maintenance. It’d seem like an easy fix right? Just put in more fertilizers, composts, and inputs and call it good… right? All of this requires more work and physical products which means more expenses. So when farmers know they won’t be recompensed for the extra work it would take to fight off the leaf rust and renovate their plots, they make a logical decision by deciding it’s not worth it. Sadly, this situation leads to low production, low quality, and the eventual death and abandonment of coffee lands which sadly is all too prevalent.
Thankfully there’s a turn around point hidden away in better relationships. When prices and quality are connected, it encourages farmers to give their plants the attention it needs providing a denser and more developed bean. These plants will have the vigor to fight off diseases, provide a better production, and produce a quality tasting crop. When Don Mingo see’s the prices after investing into his land in this way, it encourages this relationship that’s good for him, his plants, the earth, and tasty goodness for you.
We’re excited to continue this relationship and announce Don Mingo’s first ever exported coffee from Quisaché. We have 58 Bags of this washed coffee which was processed at La Cooperativa San Pedrana! (FYI, someone tried to buy it off of us in Guatemala because of how uniform and healthy the green coffee looked!)
Producer: La Cooperativa San Pedrana Agricola Integral
Varietals: Single Varietal: Caturra
Region: San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Altitude: 1,500+ masl
Harvest: December, 2018 - Feb, 2019
Processing: Fully Washed, Dry Fermentation, Patio Dried
Dry Milling: 15+ Special Preparation in 152lb/69kg Grain-Pro SHB
Cupping Notes: Floral, Purple-Berry Juicy Sweetness, Milk-Choc Layered & Multidimensional Acidity.
Quantity: 58 Bags April, 2019