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. "Xinabaju" 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 an underlying nuttiness that's a bit like candied almond. Grinding this coffee produces a smell of caramel and prailine, a hint of mace and raisin. Adding hot water brings up a complex muscovado sugar smell, as well as allusions to both dried fruits and roasted nuts. The cup has a straight-forward brown sugar sweetness, an impressive level really, that coats a pleasant note of roasted almond. The culmination has the impression of marzipan. There is impressive level of acidity too. Not like an African coffee, but a rewarding burst of tartaric to tannic brightness that is mouth-refreshing. Fruits play little more than accent roles in the cup, and it's really the middle-to-Full City roasts that harness the most fruit character. 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. Full City roasts make an intensely sweet espresso too, loads of dark chocolate bar, indications of dark fruits, and an orangey 'tang'.