Huehuetenango is the highest coffee growing region of Guatemala, with elevations ranging between 1,600 MASL to 2,100 MASL. It is also uniquely one of the three non-volcanic soil regions of Guatemala. Its clay soils and constant rains make this region a paradise for coffee.
In other regions of Guatemala it is customary for farmers to sell coffee cherry, however in Huehuetenango this does not happen often. In Huehuetenango even the very smallest producers process their own coffee; to their own standards and criteria. Because of this, Huehuetenango contains diversity in flavor profiles unseen in other areas of Guatemala.
Our small lots from Todos Santos Cuchumatanes were presented to us by a friend Jorge de Leon, Jr. Over the past years, he has been working with the coffee producers of Todos Santos, a small town in Huehuetenango located in one of the highest areas of Guatemala called Cordillera de los Cuchumatanes. Jorge identified this community as having unique and excellent cup quality while still having room to improve. Since the coffees of Todos Santos are still relatively undiscovered, many of these producers sell their parchment to middlemen to be blended into larger lots of coffee. It was Jorge’s goal to find an international market for these small producers allowing them better access to information, paying for their coffees, and therefore opening the door of opportunity to create very special and unique coffees.
Most of the producers of Todos Santos produce an average of 20 to 30 bags of coffee per year. The community of Todos Santos is also one of the few in Guatemala that still preserve their Mayan traditions; from speaking the MAM dialect to continuing to use the 260-day Mayan calendar called the Tzolkin. All the people of this town also still wear traditional clothing. Men wear a striped shirt with white and purple colors and a Mayan loom on the collar of the shirt, bags and their sleeves. Women wear the traditional dress, a huipil, which is a purple blouse and blue colored skirt.
This specific lot from Todos Santos was produced in the small village of San Martin by Alberto Pablo. Alberto is one of the few producers in the region who produces both Red and Yellow Bourbon as well as Catuai. Alberto cups each of his day lots in order to select the best and blend small day lots together to create different flavor profiles. He is also very meticulous in the picking and processing of his coffee cherries. Currently he is picking only perfectly ripe cherries and carefully ferments them in whole cherry for 12 hours prior to pulping, fermenting and washing.
Apricot, Orange, Juicy
This particular lot from Alberto is Red and Yellow Bourbon and Catuai. As Alberto does with all his coffees, this lot was fermented in whole cherry form in polypropylene bags for 12 hours then pulped. After pulping the coffees go through a second fermentation for 70-72 hours with cold water, then washed with clean water. Finally the coffees are dried on patios for 10 days in full sun.
Todos Santos, Huehuetenango
Todos Santos Cuchumatanes in Huehuetenango has the perfect elevation, climate and generally good farm management practices, making the region’s potential for specialty coffees very high. A unique microclimate is created in Todos Santos when warm air currents from the plains of Tehuantepec come up the mountainside and mix with cool, fresh air descending from the Cuchumatanes Mountains. This mixture of airflows provides a climate that allows coffee production in this region up to 2,000 meters above sea level.
Most producers in Todos Santos grow Bourbon, Pache Verde, Pache Rojo, Caturra and Catuai. Unfortunately, even with historically ideal growing conditions, coffee production is more complicated every year due to climate change; one of the largest threats to coffee production worldwide.
New in 2019
The future of Todos Santos
Jorge de Leon, started his project “Todos Santos” in 2017 and is currently working with around 40 producers to produce the best quality coffees in the region. In the last few years, Jorge has started a new program here with select producers to create his “Sangre de toro” or “Blood of the Bull” coffees. For these coffees, the producers are taught how to implement a more controlled fermentation process, and monitor drying time based on hours of sunlight.
Future Todos Santos project priorities are to start planting varieties new to the region such as Bourbon Amarillo, Tekisic, Pacamara and Maracaturra while continuing to improve on fermentation, drying and storage processes. All this is for the hopes of one day competing in Guatemala National quality competitions and international coffee auctions.