Finca La Union
This coffee is really special us. It’s also the first year we’ve ever sourced this coffee too! Let me tell ya all about it!
(Backstory) La Cooperativa San Pedrana had a great year from a quality production perspective but due to the volcanic eruption and the naturally occurring low harvest season, we ended up not being able to fill our 3rd container. Don Timoteo had a great idea to use the export license of La Cooperativa San Pedrana in a way that could offer market access to farmers and communities that are doing a great job! It’s always been in our interest to give honor where honor is due and to find a way to give recognition to farmers that are doing a spectacular job whom are often looked over as well.
I’ll be honest, I’m typically a little weary about farms in Guatemala. They often represent a financially successful model that produce great coffees (which is great!!!) but where one person primarily benefits off of the work of hundreds of low paid workers… (Sorry for the sadly painted picture but it’s all too prevalent unfortunately.)
Finca La Union was the exact opposite for us which made buying their coffee something we’re really proud to represent. From the time we entered to the time we left, all of our conversations were about the workers, the environment, the community, and the coffee. Otto and Mayra Higueros, the uncle and niece owners, really understood that coffee isn’t just a business and that it can be used as a tool to build something beautiful. Otto, the uncle of the farm, kept talking about sowing seeds. He believes it’s his job to sow seeds of love into those around him in how he treats them, provides for them, and interacts with them. These seeds grow and the people around him help to see his farm become prosperous. It was so neat to see the community around him so integrally woven into the vision and success of Finca La Union. We love seeing this. There’s so much unrealized potential coffee can have when its vision encompasses the communities and neighbors next door.
Let’s talk about their coffee and processing. About 60% of what they wet mill comes from their own land. This means that 40% of what they process comes in from smallholder farmers around their community. So cool!!! This is so cool because Finca La Union is using their platform and opening it up to surrounding community so that together they can all benefit. So when Finca La Union receives better prices and opportunities, the community as a whole benefits. To keep this momentum moving forward, they’ve set really high standards in maturation, plant health education and maintenance, and in varietal selection. As you can see, this is a 3 varietal lot only containing Bourbons, Caturra, and Catuai. Cool hey! These standards help to promote good farming practices and good coffee which enables La Union to build good relationships with buyers.
Mayra was brilliant to talk with. She’s the wet mill manager. (A good one too!) There’s not many female wet mill managers out there so I had mad respect for her! Loved it! It was great to see her interest in QC and cuppings because she’s been learning how fermentation times present different flavor profiles. She’s found that her best cupping results are found when lots are fermented less than 38 hours. (Higher and colder climate up in Acatenango.) Word is on the street that she’s a hard person to work for. If cherries aren’t picked ripe, she’ll turn them away from being deposited. This may seem harsh but it’s a good practice to uphold and encourage.
Side Story: Mayra asked me to prepare a V60 for her which I was super nervous about! It’s not every day you make coffee for the farmer that actually produced it! She was asking a lot about grind size and extraction as I shared with the purposes behind each step and why it matters. It was really incredible for her to see the intentionality Baristas go through to prepare a pour over. I shared with her that as a Barista, we believe it’s our job to best represent and to give honor to the farmers that prepared that coffee in how we brew coffee. It’s our one shot at saying thank you by being diligent in each step. (We had a bit of a moment to be honest. I almost cried along with her.) You could tell she never realized the amount of love Baristas and Roasters place into her work wanting to give her honor. It was a good moment.
We’ve been using a phrase lately that I’ve fallen in love with. “Better Relationships, Better Coffee.” When coffees are bought and sold in a way that supports communities, incentivizes quality, and creates opportunities, it’s a win win scenario that stems from forming great relationships. I have a feeling we’ll always have Finca La Union’s coffee represented by Yepocapa Coffee or by a new name coming soon…!!! (Cough cough)
Producer: Finca La Union
Varietals: Caturra, Bourbon, Catuai
Region: Acatenango, Guatemala
Altitude: 1,600+ masl
Harvest: December, 2018 - Feb, 2019
Processing: Fully Washed, Dry Fermentation, Patio/Solar Dried
Dry Milling: 15+ Special Preparation in 152lb/69kg Grain-Pro SHB
Cupping Notes: Lively Acidity, Orange Zest Finish, Balanced, Yellow Fruity Sweetness, Cocoa with a subtle Peanut Butter.
Quantity: 95 Bags May, 2019