Two days before my arrival in Guatemala, I got an email from Edwin Martinez (the owner of Finca Vista Hermosa). He wrote that Coffee Leaf Rust had hit them extremely hard this year and they expected to harvest only 10% of what they did 2-3 years ago.
When our bar manager at Torvehallerne, Rasmus Gamrath, and I visited FVH two years ago, rust was already a big plague in most of Central America, but it hadn’t reached Huehuetenango yet. The farmers there hoped that Huehuetenango would go free, as it is a higher altitude region than many of the other places, where rust had hit hard already then.
Last year there were a few signs of rust at FVH and their harvest went down about 30%. So already then they realised, that they could not expect to go free of the rust, and they started different measures to protect their trees against the decease.
Unfortunately the neighbours of FVH, did not start to protect their coffee against rust, and therefore what FVH did themselves became worthless in the short run.
The shocking result was that FVH only were able to harvest 10% of a normal harvest this year.
Edwin explained it briefly in a mail to me before I arrived, so that I was prepared for the situation. I was amazed how calm and forward-looking Edwin and the team at FVH handled the situation. They focused on the fact that most of their trees looked really healthy and already were showing signs of preparing for a larger production next year.
They have had to replant 7.000 coffee trees, mainly in the lots El Eden, El Mirador and Sabinal. Sabinal was hit so hard, that there is no production at all from it this year.
We value our cooperation with Edwin very much and are proud of working with FVH. We’re furthermore humbled by the way they handle this extremely though situation.
The total production of Finca Vista Hermosa 2015 was around 40 bags and we were expecting to buy around 120 bags. Due to our long relationship with Edwin and the farm, he offered us first picks on the coffee. They cupped really great and we have bought the entire harvest exclusively this year.
Although it would make sense with such a small harvest to blend all the lots together, Edwin have separated them and kept them individually through the processing. So we will be presenting each of the 8 microlots on their own in the Finca Vista Hermosa bags, and keep the label updated to show which exact lot you’re drinking.
I had the pleasure of travelling with Martin Herlak from Aroma in Herning, Denmark and Lucky from Insight, Sacramento, US. We all three where also together at FVH last year so it was a great reunion.
When Martin and I arrived at Finca Vista Hermosa, Lucky was already there and had roasted all the samples we were going to cup in the coming days.
Looking forward, Edwin is looking into exploring new organic practices in his farm. We are having a very close dialogue regarding this, because we really value that and want to contribute to the process the best we can. More about this will definitely follow from my next visit.
Edwin always present coffees from other producers in the area to us. This year one farm stood out on the cupping table. I found a Geisha cup that I really liked, where the jasmine and bergamot aromas shined through. I also found a really balanced, clean and chocolaty cup that is more typical of the best coffees from Huehuetenango, but when I realised they both where from the same producer, Las Rosas, I was really intrigued.
We went to visit Las Rosas and the owner Rolando Villatoro. I had been there a couple of years earlier. They have a really beautiful porch where you sit and look into a forest-like area with lots of flowers around. As I recall it, Rolandos mother (who together with his father also lives at the farm) loves roses and Rolando named the farm after her love for the flower – Las Rosas.
Rolando is quite up to date on new techniques in agriculture and he proudly showed us how he grafted Geisha tops on roots of Catimor, in an attempt to breed rust resistant and great tasting plants.
We are happy to announce that in the next week (week 35) we will be presenting both the new crop from Finca Vista Hermosa, starting with the Vista Hermosa lot, and the Geisha from Las Rosas.