This is a single-farm coffee from which we purchased a few small lot separations this year, each one earning top placement amongst other offers from the region. Valle de Cantinil is part of San Pedro Necta, a sub-region of Huehuetenango perched on the spiny mountain highlands. It's actually the small valley between the farm of another coffee we sell - Familia Morales - and this farm. The coffee is grown around 1800 meters, and is planted in mostly bourbon and caturra, but like many farms in this region, you see some older typica varieties mixed in. We found this particular farm with the help of an intermediary in San Pedro Necta, who not only knows the lay of the land, but also works with many producers in Huehuetenano. With his help, we are able to gain access to many, many hundreds of offer samples, selecting top lots, and narrowing it down to the eventual exported green coffee. It wasn't that long ago that there were few options to the small farmers in this area, opportunity really only finding its way to large farms who can market their coffee and enter competitions. This local-level partnership is our initiative to try to reward these small farmers with better prices than they had ever seen if they could grow and process coffee that meets our ideas of quality. This lot is testament to the fact that they could do it, and did do it. In the past the only options to local farmers was to sell the "coyotes" who drive around offering cash for coffee, or to sell to the bigger farms and mills in the zone. But neither rewarded the farmer with a better price for quality coffee, a necessary component to our developing longstanding relationships. We wrote an in-depth and detailed description of the project as well.
The fragrance of this microlot has plum fruit and pectin-sweet jam smells. There's a buttery-sweetness too, like toffee-covered dry fruit. The smells leading up to the cup are fantastic, the sweetness reaching pinnacle proportion with the addition of hot water. It's like baked apple or peach, with brown sugar and butter crumble, a kind-of candied sugar and fruit pectin sweetness. This all leads up to a beautiful Guatemalan cup, balanced flavors of sweet and bitter, fruited expressions that are well integrated into the overall cup character. With a lot of the coffees we're buying from Huehuetenango, I notice that it takes at least a City+ roast to fully develop sweetness and tease out fruit notes. Don't get me wrong, City roasts of Cantinil promise apple-like acidity, cane sugar sweetness, and tea notes - all good stuff. But City+ really opens this coffee up, fruit crisp and rindy orange citrus, raw cane juice, and a bittering burned sugar flavor in the finish. FC roasts show a lingering confluence of grape and roasted cacao nib flavors, accompanied by the mouthfeel of peach skins and strong hot cocoa. Will make intense espresso too, strong fruited-sweetness with counterbalancing cocoa bittering.