This was the first harvest in which we sourced directly ourselves at origin. We are extremely proud to be working directly with a small range of producers from Guatemala who take pride in quality and experimentation for the second year running.
Producer: Jose Moreira
Origin: Acatenango/Cerro Balam Juyu
Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai & Caturra
Altitude: 1550 metres above sea level
Flavours: Milk Chocolate, Brown Sugar & a long, sweet Caramel finish
Cup Score: 85
Harvest: November-February (Arrived UK 9th December 2020)
Importer: Django Coffee Co. in partnership with 88 Grains
Where is it from?
Coffee production has been intertwined with Guatemala’s socio-political fabric since around 1845, when the Commission for Coffee Cultivation and Promotion was established, though there are reports of coffee being cultivated in the country as early as the mid-eighteenth century, having been introduced by Jesuit priests. Alike El Salvador, during the 1850s, coffee came to supplement the reduced demand for indigo as chemical dyes became introduced to the market. When Justo Ruffino Barrios came to power in 1971, he concentrated much of his economic regeneration plans on coffee production, and large swathes of land – up to 400,000 hectares – became coffee plantations. Production soared and by 1880, coffee contributed roughly ninety-per-cent of the country’s exports.
However, the negative impact of this surge in production was the displacement of indigenous people, as Barrios appropriated “public” land to make way for the plantations. Many of the those displaced were put to work as seasonal labourers on the new plantations, often working in return for food and shelter, and with few rights. In the two hundred years that have followed, the situation with the employment of indigenous people on coffee estates has improved, but in many areas where large numbers of seasonal and sometimes daily contractors work during harvest season, wages below the $2.48 national minimum rural wage are commonplace. It is estimated that in a harvest season, the money earned could only contribute to as little as one-third of a family’s corn and bean calorie requirements. Poverty and malnutrition are big problems in Guatemala, with sources such as USAID estimating that upwards of 50% of the population live in poverty, and 20% in extreme poverty.
Organisations like Fair Trade are having a positive impact in helping to keep producers on small to mid-size farms on their land and the in-built premiums that are offered often help send children to school, pay for medical bills and provide food for families. However, FT coffees makeup only a small percentage of farmer’s total production and often get sold for less than the minimum FT certification price due to lack of demand.
Guatemala produces the highest percentage of classified, high-quality coffee by volume in the world. The coffee association of Guatemala, Anacafe, has been instrumental in the improvement of picking, processing and quality standards, with excellent information and resources available for farmers and a traceability database for buyers to connect with producers.
Guatemala has been leading the way in Central America, with an emphasis on producing high quality washed coffee, experimenting with fermentation and highlighting the terroir. Using a similar ‘altitude grading’ system employed in other Central American countries, coffee is classified as Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) – grown upwards of 1300 masl – Hard Bean (HB) and Semi Hard Bean coffees, all of which represent good quality, comparative to other nations.
As a country, Guatemala has been relatively successful in marketing its coffees to the rest of the world, clearly defining regions and emphasizing distinct characteristics between growing areas and farms. Most of Guatemala’s coffee farms can be found on the coastal slopes in the central and southern regions of the country, where altitudes range from 750 – 1800 masl.
The farm was founded by the Moreira Latour family in 1920 and
it is located between the Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes and the Cerro Balam Juyu biological belt. Today, Jose Moreira, an agronomy graduate of San Carlos University in Guatemala continues to cultivate coffee with a passion and a quality focus.
The name El Naranjo was born from the fact that for more than 25 years oranges of different varieties were cultivated on the farm and they were recognized for its sweetness. To this day, the region provides excellent soil conditions and a unique microclimate and the coffee is grown under the shade of chalumes and gravileas trees, species native to the Acatenango region.
Within the farm, premises run five water streams that merge into Xaya river which supplies water to nearby communities and to Guatemala City itself. Thanks to the river the farm can produce their own hydroelectric power which makes coffee processing more sustainable.
A large part of the farm consists of a forest reserve with native trees to the region, as well as conservation of natural pine forest, a species that has been reduced in the region in the last years.
Jose Moreira was born into coffee. He is the youngest out of five of his siblings. After his father’s passing the farm has been equally divided into five parts.
Jose kept the original name and the tradition of coffee growing and processing. All coffee is washed processed and it is all done on the farm’s premises.
The coffee processing is unique as Jose processes his coffee the day after the picking. The reason for that is the fact that the microclimate in this particular farm comes with very low temperatures which make the fermentation process very lengthy and uneven. Over the years of trial and error process, he has found that postponing depulping one extra day speeds up and evens out the fermentation which helps to produce vibrant and complex coffees. All coffees are dried in patios and moved regularly throughout the day.
Jose looks after his coffees as well as the local community. He found a way to diversify his farm by establishing a dairy production. He produces cheese and milk that is available to the local community. It also provides extra income throughout the year.