This week, we’re featuring another volcano coffee from Central America. While most of our Guatemalan coffees come from Huehuetenango in western Guatemala, we were intrigued when one of our favorite importers mentioned Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes, an organically processed co-op coffee from Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala. Let's follow this coffee from the farm to your cup.
Alta Verapaz contains thousands of indigenous communities where coffee has been grown for generations. The farms are small, most about 3 acres, and are snuggled between mountains in the Sierra Madre de Guatemala. The farms are between 4265 ft and 4920 ft above sea level, and the high altitude is great for the quality of the coffee. Unfortunately, the roads in the area are rough and primitive, which makes it hard for the farmers to get their coffee to Guatemala City so it can be exported.
That's why they gathered into co-ops. The farmers process the coffee cherries in their own micro-mills and the co-ops provide centralized warehouses to store the dried parchment (a step in the processing that allows the coffee beans to travel safely). When conditions permit, the co-ops truck the semi-processed coffee beans to Guatemala City where they are prepared for shipping around the world.
The co-ops work with Specialty Grade coffee importers, like the one who told us about the coffee, to improve farm management, learn strategies to protect their farms from the impact of climate change and to improve the overall quality of their coffee. They also help the farmers through the organic certification process.
The importers not only work with the co-ops to improve coffee quality, they also help navigate the maze of export and import regulations to bring the green coffee to the international market. In our case, they shipped the processed green coffee beans to Oakland, CA. When we called to talk about organic Guatemalan coffee, the importer suggested we venture outside of Huehuetenango and try Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes. We’re glad we did!
The care the farmers took with their coffee shows in the cup. At a medium (Full City or Vienna) roast level, Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes is smooth and balanced with a complex aroma: Lemon grass, morning glory and cocoa nibs, with just a hint of black currant. The flavor is very rich and sweet, with notes of caramel, vanilla, toasted pecan and candied apricot that lingers on the tongue before melting into a cocoa finish. Yum!
We like Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes best at a Full City or Vienna roast level, but it's lovely at other roast levels, too. Those who enjoy lighter roasted coffee will enjoy more lemon grass and currant topnotes. Those who prefer their coffee dark (Northern or Southern Italian roast level) will enjoy a sweeter, bolder cup with even more cocoa richness.
When it comes to Guatemalan coffee, we've always preferred the coffees from Huehuetenango, like Guatemala Rio Azul. We enjoy the way the buttery richness combines with bright topnotes to make a coffee that's lively enough to start the day and smooth enough to enjoy all day long. Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes is sweeter and more complex than a traditional Huehuetengo and if possible, we like it even better.
So pick your favorite roast level, and give Organic Guatemala Los Volcanes a try. We’ll roast the coffee and ship it fresh to your door. From coffee cherries in the Guatemalan mountains to your doorstep, great care has been taken through every step in the coffee’s journey, so you can enjoy the best possible coffee in your cup.
Have you tried coffee from Guatemala? If you have an opinion, please join the conversation and share it on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your thoughts with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast