SINGLE ORIGIN: Guatemala - Red de Mujeres (Organic, FT)

Location San Antonio, Huista, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
1600 - 1850 masl
Varietal Pache, Bourbon, Caturra
Washed and patio dried
Floral notes with raspberry and blueberry on the palate. A delicious syrupy body with a lasting sweetness.

We loved this coffee so much last year we had to get the new crop again this year! Not only does it comprise 20% of The Holy Grail, it stands out on it's own as a single origin.

The Red de Mujeres, network of women, is a large group of indigenous female coffee producers covering five different areas of Huehuetenango. The group is made up of 830 women. This lot comes from the San Antonio Huista area and is from 50 producers. Within the entire community of women there are 8 different mayan languages spoken, highlighting the diversity of culture and language in this area of Guatemala.

Coffee has helped fuel Guatemala’s economy for over a hundred years. Today, an estimated 125,000 coffee producers drive Guatemala’s coffee industry and coffee remains one of Guatemala’s principal export products, accounting for 40% of all agricultural export revenue.

It is most likely that Jesuit missionaries introduced coffee to Guatemala, and there are accounts of coffee being grown in the country as early as mid-18th century. Nonetheless, as in neighbouring El Salvador, coffee only became an important export crop for the country at the advent of synthetic dyes and industrialisation of textiles – in the mid-19th century. Throughout the latter half of the 1800s, various government programs sought to promote coffee as a means to stimulate the economy, including a massive land privatisation program initiated by President Justo Rufino Barrias in 1871, which resulted in the creation of large coffee estates, many of which still produce some of Guatemala’s best coffees today. 

Today, coffee is grown in 20 of Guatemala’s 22 departments, with around 270,000 hectares planted under coffee, almost all of which (98%) is shade grown. The country’s production is almost exclusively Arabica and is most commonly prepared using the washed method, though natural and various semi-washed methods are gaining in popularity, with increasingly producing fine examples.

Guatemala benefits from high altitudes and as many as 300 unique micro climates. There is constant rainfall in most regions and mineral-rich soils. However, while the country’s reputation as a producer of speciality coffee is stellar today, it hasn’t been an easy road. Guatemala’s long and bloody civil war (1960-1996) disrupted millions of lives, eroded the economy, exacerbated poverty and created social and political instability that still plagues the country today. Coffee production really only stabilised and began to increase at the turn of the century, displacing macadamia and avocado production in many areas.

Since the early 1990s, Anacafé, the country’s coffee board, has led pioneering efforts to define the country’s coffee-producing regions based on cup profile, climate, soil, and altitude. As a result of this ambitious project, 8 distinct regions producing Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) coffees have been identified in Guatemala:

Of the three non-volcanic regions, Huehuetenango is the highest and driest coffee producing region. Thanks to the dry, hot winds that blow into the mountains from Mexico’s Tehuantepec plain, the region is protected from frost, allowing Highland Huehue to be cultivated up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). These high altitudes and relatively predictable climate make for exceptional specialty coffee! 

The extreme remoteness of Huehuetenango virtually requires all producers to process their own coffee. Fortunately, the region has plenty rivers and streams, so a mill can be placed almost anywhere.