We arrived in Guatemala at different times, due to Jānis competing in the Latvian Barista Championship. To make his trip more special, he was using a Natural processed coffee from Finca Vista Hermosa and with no time to celebrate he had to catch a plane to start the journey to Guatemala. Both of our trips started in Guatemala City with a 9-hour journey to Huehuetenango, where we still had another 3 hours on a pickup truck to the farm. We still had a 3 hours drive on the Pan American Highway through mountains before you exit the highway and drive the last hour and a half on a rocky gravel road through the coffee country. Sitting on the back of the pickup truck trying to hold on was one of the wildest experiences for both of us.
Our first day at the farm started at 6 am with breakfast and coffee on the terrace overlooking the beautiful view of the farm as the sun just makes its way over the mountains. As this was our only full day at the farm we wanted to take the full potential of it. After breakfast, we did a big walk around the farm to see the different lots and get an idea of the coffee growing and the hard work that is being done at the farm. We saw many different lots, varieties and different stages of ripeness as the harvest had only just begun at the farm. One of the most amazing experiences was to pick a cherry off a coffee tree and taste it.
The walk took around 4 hours and it was at times difficult not to slide on the hillside as it was very steep. This was the first time it really occurred to us how intense coffee picking is, which we ourselves were gonna try later that day.
After lunch back at the farm, we followed Edwin Martinez, who runs the farm, to the drying patio where he had a meeting with his patio crew. It was amazing to see the relationship that he has with all of the workers at the farm and how focused everyone was. Now it was our turn to get to work and Edwin teamed us up with Leonel, one of the pickers, who was going to help and guide us. Edwin and Leonel's idea of an easy spot to start picking was very different from ours, so we found an easier spot and was delegated a row of trees each. After an hour and a half, we had both done a few trees and it was time to get to the washing station to get our coffee weighed and sorted.
Before dinner, we had the chance to walk through their variety garden where we were shown more than 20 different varieties of coffee trees. It was interesting to see how they experiment with new varieties and what impact the varieties have on the coffee flavours in their growing conditions.
Wednesday morning was again an early start with coffee on the terrace looking as the clouds are clearing in the sky. It was bound to be a hot sunny day again. After breakfast, we had some time to enjoy the nature around the farm. We were leaving later in the afternoon, so we wanted to make the most of our last hours at the farm.
We walked down to the washing station to join the crew in washing a couple picks from earlier days that had done the fermentation process. This was again a very eye-opening experience, as the scorching sun and intensity of the work proved that this is no easy task.
It was clear that there were different systems on how to wash each coffee, so it was rather difficult just to jump in from the side.
After lunch, we had a little bit of time left, so Don Edwin, the father of Edwin Martinez, who originally found the land and began growing coffee, took us on another walk around the farm. This time we went to see lots that they are turning to be organic and we also made our way to the farms coffee nursery, where the new coffee plants are taken care of before they are planted at the farm. It was interesting to see how much work is done even before the coffee tree is planted.
It was time to get back to the house to pack our bags and make the journey to Huehuetenango.
In Huehuetenango, we had one more step in the process to see and it was the dry mill. Here the coffee is delivered from the farm to be further sorted for screen size, density, and beans that are defected. Using a lot of different machines they are able to sort out only the best beans that will taste great on the cupping table before they are ready to ship the coffee to us here in Copenhagen.
At the end of this first trip to a coffee farm, we realized even more how much work goes in to produce good quality coffee. All the intensive work and long hours and amount of hands that go in to create a beautiful and delicious coffee.