Blue Ayarza, GUATEMALA — Espresso Roast
PRODUCER: smallholder farmers / Ayarza cherry mill
REGION: Ayarza, Santa Rosa
VARIETY: Bourbon, Catuai, Pache, Anacafe 14, San Ramon
ALTITUDE: 1600-2000 MASL
Tasting Notes: dried cranberries and stewed plum with a sweet dates, almond and baker's chocolate body
About The Coffee
This natural lot was processed at the cherry mill in Ayarza, Santa Rosa. In Guatemala, coffee is traditionally processed individually by smallholder farmers, making it difficult to manage and guarantee quality form lot to lot. Our importer's team in Ayarza works with numerous farmers in the region, paying a premium for ripe cherry and processing it centrally to maintain strict standards throughout.
Arnaldo López (56) is one of the many producers we work with at Ayarza cherry mill and has been involved in coffee production business his entire life. His father took him into the field to plant coffee trees as a child. Now Arnaldo has five children of his own and the cultivation of coffee has provided a platform for the family to grow and improve their quality of life.
Arnaldo farms 12.6ha of land and production has varied greatly over the years. Like many farmers in this current crop the volume is down compared to prior years. Two factors have driven this decrease - large crops from the year before and disease attacking some of the traditional varieties. The new varieties (Anacafe 14 and others) that are being planted have shown more production and disease resistance. Arnaldo has pushed through these adversities with the financial support of a livestock trade and an extra income from the small supply store run by his wife Alicia Trigueros.
The region of Ayarza is a special one, landmarked by the drastic landscape and cold blue water from the Laguna de Ayarza and Laguna Azul. The lake was formed by two massive volcanos that collapsed and formed a large crater.
The legends surrounding this lake are numerous and the bottom has never been found. There is a large white rock of a petrified woman who didn’t follow the orders of Jesus. In short, there are simply too many good stories about Ayarza to do it justice!
The cherries for natural processing need to come from high altitudes and employ near-perfect pickings which is why our importer's sourcing is focused on local small batch deliveries from trusted partners who provide us with consistent high quality ripe cherry.
While there is an abundance of quality cherry in the region and a few areas that reach 2,000 meters altitude, the terrain is not ideal for processing naturals. Ayarza is remote and rough with almost no flat land available. For this reason selected cherries are transported to the neighbouring region of Amatitilan. This region was famous for coffee production many years ago but the climate has changed and the conditions here are now ideal for the processing of Naturals. The sun is hot, but the breeze keeps the temperature under control.
Starting with the cherry in a depth of 4-6 inches, the cherries are turned it often during the day. Over the first few days the coffee turns from red or yellow to a deep purple then black. The drying is finished in a mechanical drier for a few hours. This avoids a common challenge in sun dried naturals where the coffee re absorbs humidity in the morning then dries during the day and repeats until there are a few days of strong sun. We also find that the acidity is improved when finished in a drier (and it reduces the risk of the coffee getting caught in an untimely rain shower!)