The coffee harvest is just…irresistible. My eyes (and camera) are invariably drawn to the bright red of the coffee cherries, which make their way in just a few hours’ time from the trees where they are picked to a sticky rest in the fermentation tank — the truimphant conclusion of many months of patient maturation. Here are a few images documenting the last day in the life of some very special coffee cherries from Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.
On my recent visit to Olopa here in Guatemala, I had the pleasure of spending some time with two fantastic people — Don Bernardino and Doña Francisca. During our visit, Don Bernardino was very expressive in conversation, using his hands to emphasize a point, demonstrate the physical quality of his coffee, dig into his worm […]
Last week I suggested that the best water may the water that does not go into processing your coffee. Today I am here to say that if you must use water in the milling process, make it rainwater!
Every year, the trade show at the SCAA annual conference includes at least a few vendors selling the latest and greatest technology to filter, purify, ionize or otherwise ensure the quality of the water you put in your coffee. But you rarely hear anything at SCAA about the countless millions of gallons of water that are used to mill your coffee at origin. As it turns out, the best water may be the water that doesn’t go into your coffee.
Guatemala is home to some of the world’s most celebrated coffee origins – Antigua, Huehuetenango, Atitlán, San Marcos. But there are other lesser-known origins within Guatemala that produce extraordinary coffees. The CAFE project accompanies farmers in some of the traditionally prized Guatemalan origins as well as some of the worthy but lesser-known ones, including some very special farmers in New Oriente who are producing some very special coffees.
I get paid – among other things – to travel to remote regions of the coffeelands to meet with farmers hear about their aspirations for their coffee and their families and do what I can to help them along the way. Every one of these visits is memorable in its way. But every once in a while, I get to visit places that are even more memorable than usual, like Tzampetey.
I have been closely watching the way coffee companies engage in the coffeelands over the past five years or so. Most fit neatly under one of the “3Ps” of coffee philanthropy: public relations, process and product improvements, and people-centered investment. (OK, really there are 4Ps.)
At a recent meeting of the CAFE Livelihoods project team, one member delivered a presentation on effective nursery management titled “Two hopes for the future.” The title was taken from a conversation with a group of farmers who say that their nurseries and their children represent their two hopes for the future of the community.
I am in Oaxaca this week — life is good. I came back to Oaxaca in late 2008 for the first time in more than 10 years, and to my very pleasant surprise found some very nice coffee shops, including Cafe Brujula.
I visited a dry mill in Oaxaca last week just as the harvest is getting into high gear. The mill was primed and ready, but almost totally empty. And spotless. Unlike all my past visits to dry mills during the peak of the post-harvest period, there was no activity at all. No people. No coffee. No roar of elevators or sorters to shout over. Perhaps that is why I was able to appreciate lots of beautiful little geometric details that have escaped my notice on previous visits.