Grumpy Mule - Guatemala
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Finca Santa Paula farm in the Coban region of Guatemala
Notes of "Full-bodied, Sweet and Funky Wild Strawberry Extravaganza"
Finca Santa Paula lies at around 1,375 metres near the small town of San Pedro Carcha, in the cool, humid Alta Verapaz region in north-central Guatemala. The area is known locally as Tezulutlán and is still populated by indigenous peoples who live and work the land using traditional methods.
The farm is managed on a daily basis by Don Aldalberto Reyes, who first came to the farm in 1995. Don Aldalberto grew up working in coffee in his family’s own farm, where his family still lives (some 100 km away). It is with Don Adalberto’s sage advice and hard work that the Schaps are working towards developing a 100% sustainable farm. The man isn’t just a coffee expert, though! Don Adalberto speaks four languages: Spanish, Q'eqchi', Pokom’chi and Achi. In this region of Guatemala, it is vital to be able to speak at least one other language besides Spanish, as all the local indigenous communities communicate in their own local languages.
Cobán is known for being very, very wet despite the lack of above ground water sources in the region. Constant rain (much of it gentle drizzle accumulating to 3,000 to 4,000 ml a year!) means that flowering is very staggered, with 8-9 flowerings per year. Due to this prolonged flowering season, coffee ripens at different stages, which means that up to 10 passes (with breaks of up to 14 days between passes) are needed to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are selected. The accompanying low temperatures ensure a long and steady maturation of the coffee cherries, allowing the coffee to develop a complex and distinctive cup profile.
The organic waste from the pulped coffee is recycled, in part, using lombriculture, whereby earth worms transform the organic waste into compost that is then returned to the farm as fertilizer. However, unusually, a part of the pulp is applied directly to the plant un-composted. Due to the wet conditions, this is actually the better way to fertilise in this area as it prevents the nutrients from dissipating to quickly.