Guatemala, Huehuetenango - Washed
SHB FTO Cooperative, Western Highlands
This coffee was produced by various smallholder farmers in the Huehuetenango region in northern Guatemala. The producers here typically own a couple of hectares for growing coffee, and wet-process and dry the coffee on their own land.
They dry the clean parchment in the sun on small patios. Growers process their coffee themselves since centralised wet mills are very unusual in the region. Once the coffee is dry enough, the producers try to find the best-selling price for their beans. Our origin partner Unex also has its intake point and quality lab in Huehuetenango. They do what they can to reach the producers and offer them better prices than middlemen traveling around the country, buying coffee at low prices.
Coffee produced in the Huehuetenango highland region sets itself apart from the typical Guatemalan taste profile. The Cuchumatanes Mountains that define Huehuetenango’s topography have a limestone soil, with a relatively high soil pH. Coffea arabica can grow in a wide range of acidic soils from acidic (pH4) to neutral (pH7).
This is partly explained by the solubility of nitrogen, one of coffee’s most important macronutrients, which is most soluble in soils with pH from 4 to 8. Soil acidity determines the solubility of nutrients. They must remain soluble long enough to travel all the way down the soil to the roots of the plants. It also affects the decomposition of mineral rock into elements that the plants can use. The coffee-growing altitude in Huehuetenango is the highest in the country. Coffee can grow here up to 2000 meters without frost damage, thanks to the warm winds blowing off the Mexican plains. The coffee harvest takes place from January to April. Varieties in the region are Caturra, Catuai, and Bourbon.