Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon
Maria Ramirez Vargas
This year’s Guatemala harvest is something of a miracle, all things considered. Between the coronavirus pandemic with its related shutdowns and restrictions, the steadily increasing impact of climate change, and the worst global shipping delays in recorded history – somehow this year’s Guatemalan coffees arrived to the UK faster than ever before. Well, not somehow. This marvel of supply chain mastery is all down to our partners, Primavera Coffee Importers, who we’ve been working with for the past nine years.
Our partnership with Primavera, run by our friend Nadine Rasch, has brought us many amazing coffees over the years, and introduced us to a host of incredible producers. Based in Guatemala City with a team throughout the country, Primavera have always stuck to their roots – a Guatemalan-owned, Guatemalan-only coffee business. Adept at navigating the complexities of the world’s eighth largest producing country, they are our eyes and ears on the ground in the months – or in this case, years – when we cannot be. Though travel between cities has been restricted, many of their staff live in the same towns as the producers they work with, allowing their programs of farmer support, education, and quality selection to continue, with safety procedures in place of course.
Our first release of the season comes from Maria Ramirez, who owns Finca T’zun Witz, in the renowned northern region of Huehuetenango. She is a member of Cooperative El Sendero, a group who consistently produce exceptional coffees well above the already high bar set by the region’s natural potential. This is our third year in a row buying coffee from Mrs. Ramirez, who is the first generation of her family to farm coffee. This year, good weather and rains produced ideal conditions for coffee growing, meaning Maria and her family harvested approximately 15% more than previous harvests. On top of that, this year is the highest cup score of the three years we’ve been purchasing from T’Zun Witz – a testament to Mrs. Ramirez’ hard work.
At T’zun Witz, Mrs. Ramirez grows the varieties Catuai, Caturra and Bourbon under Inga and Gravilea shade trees. She and her workers selective pick the ripest cherries with three passes over the fields during harvest. Following picking, she immediately de-pulps the coffee before leaving it in water to ferment for 36 hours. Following this long fermentation, the coffee is then cleaned with fresh water before patio drying. This period of comparatively long wet fermentation is necessitated by the cold nights of Huehuetenango, imparting a distinct fruity, berry-like tone to the coffee whilst keeping the bright and clean acidity of the washed process.
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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