25. May 2020

Discovery Subscription Presents

Back to Huehuetenango

  • We are excited to welcome back producers from Huehuetenango, and especially Ana Ramirez, to the subscription programme for the third year.

  • We visited the region and our export partners at Primavera in March 2020.

  • A captivating and remote region in Northwestern Guatemala, Huehuetenango lies on the border with Mexico, and in our opinion, produces the best coffees in all of Guatemala.

  • This month’s first coffee is a returning favourite for us, a washed Bourbon and Caturra field blend from Ana Ramirez. Her small farm has produced excellent coffee consistently, and those familiar soft fruit notes are present again this year.

  • The second coffee is from a similarly small farm, but Baltazar Mendez uses a more traditional fermentation, leading to a slightly crisper expression of Guatemalan coffee, with notes of apple and caramel.

Subscribe to get this months coffees

Available from the 25th of May to the 18th of June

1 x coffee

Ana Ramirez (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Ana Ramirez (250g / 5.3oz)
Baltazar Mendez (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 239,00

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What is happening at
La Cabra

This month we’re preparing to release more coffees from Burundi, including a very exclusive lot from their own farm. As we hope you found in last month’s subscription, the quality Long Miles have produced this year is excellent, especially considering the adversity they face in Burundi.

We are also continuing to release coffees from our long term Colombian partners at Cafe Granja La Esperanza, small lots from their stunning farms in the Cauca Valley. The XO process Potosí and both lots of Sudan Rume have been tasting delicious, and we’ve been humbled by the amazing response to the coffees on our webshop. There are three rather special coffees still to come in the series, which we’ll be announcing over the coming weeks.



Huehuetenango

Huehuetenango is located in the north-western highlands of Guatemala, and borders with Mexico. It is home to the highest altitudes in all of Central America, due to the presence of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountain range, which peaks at 3837 masl. This creates lots of high altitude land to grow high-quality coffee, an important crop in an area where agriculture is the largest industry. A dry hot wind also blows in from the Tehuantepec plain in Mexico to the north, which protects crops from frost, allowing coffee to grow even higher up the slopes, often above 2000 masl. These high altitudes also lead to very beautiful scenery, something the area is known for, but also to a remoteness not found elsewhere in Guatemala. 9 different ancient Mayan dialects are still spoken here, and the region is home to some of the best preserved examples of Mayan architecture. The remoteness also makes sourcing coffee a challenge here, the journey to farms often takes days over unforgiving terrain, and would-be coffee buyers require knowledge of the local dialects, or an experienced guide. We have visited our Guatemalan partners at Primavera for the past three years, and have been stunned by the beauty of both the coffees they have been sourcing, and of this captivating region.

1st coffee - Guatemala

Ana Ramirez - Washed Bourbon, Caturra

Peach, Blackberry and Fudge

(250g / 8.8oz)

Ana Ramirez grows coffee in the north of the Huehuetenango region, in the far north-west of Guatemala. This is our third year working with Ana and her sisters’ coffee, and we have been excitedly awaiting the arrival of their new crop. The farm is located just outside the town of San Marcos Huista, and produces just 1800 kg of coffee per year. In a region where the average coffee farmer is both male and in their mid-50’s, Ana, at only 29, is bucking the trend by running her own farm together with her two younger sisters. Being from such a remote rural area has been a challenge for the Ramirez sisters, they previously were only able to sell their coffee to the local ‘coyote,’ who drives around farms in a pick up truck, buying parchment coffee at a very low market price. However, the Ramirez sisters have been working with Primavera’s female coffee grower program in the Huista region since 2017, and in that time have seen the price they receive at their farm gate rise considerably. Joining the program was the first time they were able to taste their coffee without being blended with many others at the local cooperative. They have also been involved in workshops highlighting the importance of careful harvesting and fermentation.

The farm has a microclimate with high rainfall and slightly above average humidity, perfect conditions for the mix of varietals Ana grows, Bourbon, Caturra, and a small amount of the popular Guatemalan varietal Pache. As they do all of the work at the farm themselves, Ana and her sisters cannot pick and ferment coffee on the same day, so the cherries are sealed in bags and begin to ferment overnight. In the morning, the coffee is de-pulped with a small diesel powered de-pulper before moving to the fermentation tanks for a very long fermentation. Due to the cool temperatures around harvest time, the sticky mucilage layer surrounding the coffee seeds takes a long time to ferment and break down, often around 40 hours. This double fermentation leads to the beautiful soft fruit notes and slight liqueur character present we find in this coffee. Being able to consistently produce coffee of this level, on such a small scale and with such a lack of resources, is testament to the work of both Ana and of Primavera’s team on the ground in the Huista micro-region.

2nd coffee - Guatemala

Baltazar Mendez - Washed Bourbon, Caturra

Apple, Toffee and Black Tea

(250g / 8.8oz)

Just 15 km from Ana’s farm, a 30 minute drive further up into the mountains, lies Baltasar Mendez’s farm. A little larger than the Ramirez family farm, at 0.9 hectares, it provides the main income for the family, like many others in this remote and agriculturally dependent region. They have named the farm Q’antxabina’, the local dialect word for the Guachipilin tree, which provides much of the shade on the farm. Just a few years ago, Baltasar settled back in Guatemala to start farming with his family, after years as a migrant worker in the US. He sought out the Primavera program in the Huista area, gaining knowledge in order to increase and stabilise his income from coffee. Like many rural farmers, Baltasar is motivated to earn more in order to give his children better opportunities than he had. The family do all of the farm work themselves, transporting baskets of cherry back to their small mill on horseback. Here, they are depulped directly and fermented in tanks until the mucilage is broken down. The similar conditions, with high humidity and cool temperatures again leads to long slow fermentation, around 40 hours. The lack of pre-fermentation when compared to Ana’s coffee means that Baltasar’s coffees are somewhat crisper, with notes of apple balanced by a rich sweetness of toffee and brown butter, before a black tea finish.

Subscribe to get this months coffees

Available from the 25th of May to the 18th of June

1 x coffee

Ana Ramirez (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Ana Ramirez (250g / 5.3oz)
Baltazar Mendez (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 239,00
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Primavera

Our visit to Huehuetenango and to our partners at Primavera in March this year was our most extensive yet. Working as a coffee buyer in this region is full of unique challenges, and we are appreciative of the work that Primavera do here and the insight they are able to give us, aiding us in securing delicious lots year after year. This is an area of small farms, where most of the work is done by the families themselves, and most are dependent on selling coffee as their main source of income. Primavera’s work here is of direct importance to them. The quality Ana Ramirez is able to produce is a great example of this, this is the third year we have bought coffee from her tiny 0.4 hectare plot just outside the town of San Marcos.

Stay bright and curious - John Gibson

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