This Guatemala coffee comes from the farms of two producers in the Santa Barbara municipality of Huehuetenango, an area of great altitudes starting at 1500 meters and reaching 3000 in some areas. The farms sit right around 1700 meters and are planted mostly in Caturra. Like their neighbors, most of the farms are quite small, less than a couple hectares each. Pulping and fermentation of the coffee is handled locally, and the coffee is, for the most part, patio-dried. Dry-milling happens at a mill in Antigua where they are equipped with state of the art equipment, and with the infrastructure and knowledge to properly handle small lots of coffee. "Xinabajul" is the name of the project/partnership we have with local coffee people to offer higher prices to farmers that meet our quality expectations in the cup. Given that the localities where we are buying coffee are little more than extended family groups, we have found if we involve a brother or sister, they will tell all their coffee-farming kin and soon we have a network of farmers interested in our project. We wrote an in-depth and detailed description of the project as well.
This two-producer blend has a profile of candied sugar and baking spices, with juicy dark fruit smells as you get into the middle roast range. Grinding this coffee produces a smell of cinnamon caramels, a spiced sweetness, along with a dried peach accent. Adding hot water brings up a complex muscovado sugar and fruit smell, sweet allusions to berry and sugar reduction. Sweetness and body are the first two characteristics I pick up on in the hot cup. City+ roasts are front-loaded with a sweetness like light brown sugar, potent and nearing floral. A smell of five spice marks the aroma of light roasts, adding a layer of complexity to the dark sugar and nut attributes dominating the cooling cup, and giving an impression of spiced pecan shortbread cookies. Apple and a faint orange oil note are sensed as the cup cools, but more or less are obfuscated by dense caramel sweetness, and a fading baker's cocoa flavor in the finish. We roasted one batch to just north of Full City+ right before 2nd snap territory, and were rewarded with an chocolatey espresso option, notes of dark chocolate pudding with blackberry jam at the periphery.