A staple in our roastery: Guatemala Quetzal, Huehuetenango

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From the well-recognized region of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, this coffee provides a crisp malic and citric acidity. By developing relationships with producers in Guatemala, Cafe Imports brings this green to us from smallholders within the region’s community. We enjoy carrying this coffee in the roastery because of its clarity and versatility. It produces a full body, crisp acidity, with clean and balanced sweetness. We appreciate this coffee on its own or as a blend component.

Region

Huehuetenango has been one of Guatemala’s most important growing regions for coffee and a necessary staple in many cafes and roasteries. Located on the northwest side of Guatemala, coffee growing in Huehuetenango produces bright sweetness and distinct flavor profiles. High-growing altitudes of up to 2000 meters, non-volcanic mountainous land, and soil rich in nutrients provide the ideal environment. Its climate range, from tropical lowland forests to high mountains, contributes to this coffee’s flavor and quality. Over the years, it remains a number one choice for roasters.

Processing

Out of the many producers across this region, most process their own coffee on their farms due to their remote locations. The ripest cherries are picked by workers on the farm. Following fermentation, filtered water is used to agitate and wash cherries that have been depulped. The beans are then set out on patios to be sun-dried. Most coffees from Guatemala are washed, giving us a lot of clarity in the cup.

The Quetzal

You may have seen the term Quetzal printed on a bag of coffee from Guatemala, but what does it mean? Huehuetenango is home to the quetzal, which is the national bird of Guatemala. Quetzal is also the official currency of Guatemala and symbolizes freedom in the Mayan culture. Native species like the quetzal thrive in coffee-growing environments, with many farms being surrounded by shade-producing trees. Found high in the clouds of forests and remote areas of Guatemala, these birds are easy to spot with their beautiful array of colorful feathers. Today quetzals are currently endangered due to habitat loss and globalization.

History

The introduction of coffee in Guatemala dates back to the mid-1800s. Coffee plants were brought over to be used as decoration by Jesuit missionaries in the city of Antigua. With the local economy in decline, coffee quickly became an important export crop. Various government programs rose at this point to promote coffee production. This resulted in excellent coffee offerings from large coffee estates. It hasn’t always been an easy road for specialty coffee production in Guatemala, but modern techniques and growing practices have made it a more efficient revenue stream for growers.

How We’re Using This Coffee

When we offer the tasting notes for a coffee we’re selling, we taste it across multiple roast levels to provide a broad description. In this offering from Guatemala, we initially taste dried fruits, cherry, plum, and milk chocolate for a medium roast. It’s crisp and punchy in a lighter roast, rich and dense at darker profiles.

We offer this coffee to our toll roasting customers as a light, medium, or dark roast, so they can select the profile that’s best for their cafe. For us, the decision to carry this coffee is an easy choice to make. We know it’s an offering we can sip on all day, a crowd-pleaser, and that we can lean on it as a single origin and a blend component. As a larger regional offering, there are fewer issues with availability and we have access to a lot of information about the coffee. We’re always excited when we see it on a menu or in our brew shuttles here at the office.

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