Guacatepeque is an ancient local name for the area this coffee comes from, a group of small coffee producers in the Alotenango area. The farms are on the rising slopes of the Volcan de Fuego, which has been moderately active in the past few months. The soil in the area is unique, and contains quite a lot of sand and ash from Fuego. Producers must take care to balance this with organic materials to keep the coffee trees in production. Some of the small farms I visited in the area were very casually tended, with large, long-branched old Bourbon trees, unkempt and in need of a good pruning. Other producers were clearly more active, and had been re-planting the trees on a regular cycle to achieve better production and quality. The area these small farmers work in is adjacent to the large La Candelaria farm, in fact they are just upslope from it on the same side of the Fuego volcano ranging from 1400 to 1550 meters. Much of the area is forest preserve, which protects the water supply, as well as providing the much needed organic soil inputs. We find the cup to be uniquely different than other coffees in the zone. This lot of Guacatepeque is one we cupped and "built" batch by batch for better cup quality. The preparation is outstanding but we do find an occasional quaker in our batches.
This is a classic crowd-pleaser coffee and the profile has really opened up with some rest. We brought this in as an early, fresh-crop coffee and giving it time to rest has resulted in a bump up in our cupping scores across the board. The dry fragrance has a creamy caramel scent, with golden raisin and cocoa powder. The wet aromatics show butter and caramel, balanced with chocolate bittersweet scents, and some plum fruit notes in the darker roast level. The cup has good caramelized-sugar sweetness, especially in the light roast where orange notes and hazelnut roast taste are so complimentary. There is a dark honey taste in the finish, with sweet butter and suggestions of Concord grape. More developed roasts reveal dark toffee with almonds, milk chocolate and raisin fruit notes. It's not an overly complex coffee, but delicious all the same, and with big, juicy body. A matured sweetness of dark brown sugar pervades into the long aftertaste. This is a lively and clean fresh crop coffee and it makes a great SO espresso as well.