Guatemala, Finca El Peñón
Finca El Peñón is 75 hectares coffee farm, 15 of which are devoted to forest reserves, while the remaining 60 hectares are planted with Caturra, Pache and Bourbon.
The owner Ivan Ovalle is meticulous about teaching workers to pick only ripe, red cherry at the exactly right moment. He’s used analyses of Brix degrees (sugar content) to find the optimal moment at which to pick cherry. Workers selectively handpick cherry according to their training.
Finca El Peñón is dedicated to protecting the environment from any adverse effects of coffee growing. Ovalle has been focused on reducing water usage year after year and working with various certification programs to improve the farm’s environmental and social impacts.
After pulping, coffee is dry fermented for 36 to 48 hours, depending on ambient conditions. Then, parchment is washed in channels and after washing, laid to sundry on patios, where it will be raked regularly for 1.5 to 2 days. It is then transferred a greenhouse covered with plastic sheeting, where it will dry on raised beds for around 6 days. Total drying time is 7-10 days, depending on climate at the time. Approximately 40% of the farm’s production in Fully washed.
Dry parchment is then bagged and stored on the farm to 30 to 45 days before being transported to Quetzal’s dry mill in Escuintla. Ovalle receives technical and financial help from Quetzal.
Coffee in Guatemala
Guatemala boasts a variety of growing regions and conditions that produce spectacular coffees. Today, the country is revered as a producer of some of the most flavorful and nuanced cups worldwide. We are proud to work with several exceptional in-country partners to bring these coffees to market.
The Guatemalan coffee industry experienced a major setback with the 2010 appearance of Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) in Latin America. The epidemic peaked in severity in 2012, and though CLR continues to affect some farms, Guatemala continues to produce high-quality, record-breaking coffees. In 2017, new and varied processing methods pushed prices at the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence contest to record highs.
The quality of coffee being produced in Guatemala is increasing, overall, due to the diversity of the industry’s producers. There are more and more small holder farmers producing exceptional coffee at high altitudes. Cooperatives are becoming more appealing to so many smallholders because they often offer farmers financing and other support for improving their farming and processing and are frequently able to offer higher prices for cherry than middlemen. Many cooperatives have initiated quality improvement training for farmer members and are becoming more adept at helping members market their coffee as specialty.