Behind the Scenes 5: A note on Guatemala

Behind the Scenes 5: A note on Guatemala

One of our firm favourite origins, we've purchased 3 lots from Guatemala for our first year. Paya by Nery Pablo, La Primavera Familia (a part of Facility Blend) and one final single origin that's just around the corner from being released that we're pretty stoked about. 

And why do we love Guatemala so much? above so many other wonderful Central American producing countries? The region of Huehuetenango. 

The reason coffees from Huehue have such excellent qualities is quite simple - located in Guatemala's north-western highlands, it is home to Central America's highest altitudes thanks to the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountain range. Warm winds from Mexico's Tehuantepec plain protect the coffee crops, allowing higher altitude production than the latitude would otherwise support, delaying ripening and increasing the density and concentration of flavour in the seeds. The region offers stunning landscapes and a rich cultural heritage but presents logistical challenges due to its remoteness and infrastructure constraints.

Coffee in Guatemala has a history marked by Spanish colonisation and forced labour on converted Mayan lands. Although introduced in the 17th century, the coffee industry truly took off after the local indigo industry's collapse and political changes. Today, despite its tumultuous past marked by dictators and economic struggles, Guatemala is the 11th largest coffee producer worldwide and well known for quality production. 

Climate change poses a significant threat to Guatemala's coffee production and wider food security. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increased frequency of extreme weather events have adversely impacted coffee yields and quality. These shifts have also escalated the incidence of plant diseases such as coffee rust, further undermining production. Consequently, many farmers are facing precarious livelihoods and increased food insecurity. This environmental crisis, coupled with the economic strain, has resulted in a surge of economic migration, with individuals and families leaving rural areas in search of employment opportunities elsewhere. This exodus not only depletes the agricultural workforce but also presents new socio-economic challenges as migrants navigate an often uncertain and demanding journey.

Amid these challenges, our import partner Primavera is playing a crucial role in building an equitable and sustainable supply chain. Working year-round with about 250 producers across nine communities in Huehuetenango, Primavera's agronomy team is focusing on improving production costs and developing robust relationships with producer cooperatives. In addition to striving for gender equality and engaging indigenous coffee growers, they offer vital training on sustainable farming practices and post-harvest procedures to enhance coffee quality. They're implementing cost-effective and eco-friendly strategies, such as using coffee pulp as fertiliser and managing wastewater, helping the farming community adapt to climate change and protect their livelihoods, while conserving the region's natural resources for future generations.

Our final lot for this season's Guatemalan harvest speaks to this new climate adaptation, and we're excited to release it - watch this space. 

Primavera founder Nadine Rasch (right) and Head of Quality/Agronomist José Lopez inspect the drying beds at Finca El Mirador, Primavera's wet mill and drying station in Huehuetenango

Image: Primavera founder Nadine Rasch (right) and Head of Quality/Agronomist José Lopez (Left) inspect the drying beds at Finca El Mirador, Primavera's wet mill and drying station in Huehuetenango. Own photography, 2019
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.