Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon
Maria Ramirez Vargas
When sourcing micro-lot coffees, we often talk about the hunt for hidden gems. Working with specialist exporters dedicated to their respective producing country is a huge factor in finding these. It’s important to ask your exporter – what are you excited about? They themselves are prospecting to find the producers and lots that have standout and exceptional qualities. We’ve worked with Nadine Rasch and her company Primavera coffee for nearly eight years now sourcing incredible Guatemalan coffees, and it’s through her tireless work that we were able to discover the Co-operative El Sendero.
We had the pleasure of joining Nadine in Guatemala at the end of February as part of a sourcing trip. Travelling alongside José Lopez (her head of quality for the Huehue region and son of CCR favourite Paulina Lopez) we saw the work she does visiting producers and co-ops to establish lines of communication, gather samples and return feedback from the cupping lab in La Central. In all cases, trying to ensure that producers earn a fair price for their coffee, understand the quality of what they produce (both good and bad) and that there is traceablity at all levels of the value chain.
Coffee is a major cash crop in Huehue, and producers may not have the financial means to hold-out for a speciality buyer – preferring the more assured (but significantly lower) cash flow from selling to a commodity buyer. Joining a co-op can help a producer navigate the financial pressures of harvest time, gain access to shared knowledge to support, and often access better prices for their coffee.
So when a veteran exporter says that she is excited by the output of one particular co-op, you know you’re on to something. Beginning as an association, but after struggling with pricing and market access reforming as a co-op in 2016, El Sendero now boasts 196 members (of which 62 are women). We’ve selected two female producers from the co-op to showcase as part of the 2019 coffee offer, as part of our mission to celebrate Women in the coffee industry – something the co-op also champions with gender equality as one of their core principles.
Maria was able to buy T’zun Witz after her husband emigrated to the US, earning enough money to purchase the farm together. She is the first generation of her family to farm coffee, but she is passing this knowledge down to her children with help from the co-op.
Selectively picking the ripest coffees with 3 passes over the harvest, she immediately de-pulps the coffee before leaving it in water to wet ferment for 36 hours. Following the long fermentation, the coffee is then cleaned with fresh water before patio drying.
The relatively long wet fermentation is tempered by the cold nights of Huehue. This imparts a distinct fruity, berry-like tone to the coffee whilst keeping the bright acidity of the washed process. Maria credits the support given to her by the El Sendero co-op as crucial to her success – and as such we’re excited to feature her coffee, and we hope to continue to buy and feature Maria & the producers of El Sendero in future years.
We always like Huehue coffees brewed on a V60 02: Pre-rinse the filter and grind 15g coffee as fine as table-salt. Bloom with 50g of 96c fresh, soft water, stirring the bloom thoroughly. Pour to 250g of water for a 1:16 ratio, finishing pouring at 1:45. Stir the top of the slurry in a circle twice to prevent coffee sticking to the sides of the paper and allow to draw down, aiming for 2:30-3m total brewing time.