12 Feb Our trip in Central America kicked off in Guatemala!
It’s funny how throughout my life my biggest passions always seem to come together: Coffee and Travelling. When I was a kid on my first visit to Italy I instantly fell in love with coffee and its surrounding culture. Later in my teens I visited London where the specialty coffee scene inspired me to become a barista. After finishing my university degree I traveled Indonesia to visit my first coffee plantation. That was the moment I decided to become a coffee roaster. Now, finding myself in the back of a pick-up truck on a bumpy goat track, I am on my way to visit one of the most remote coffee plantations in northern Guatemala close to the Mexican border.
Our Local agent, Mister Escobar, is an excellent cupper and experienced coffee professional but he doesn’t excel in estimating distance and time. The first plantation of the day, Finca Potosi, was supposed to be an hour and a half from Huehuetenango city. After an hour and a half, the dirt track started and the ride of only 20 kilometers took us two and a half hours more. On the side of the road hundreds of coffee plants are to be found. In the small towns we pass every house has coffee drying in the front yard or on the roof.
Augusto César Ramirez Rios, the youngest son of plantation owner César Abel Ramirez Perez told me the road is only open when it’s dry. We get stopped twice to pay the local toll which pays for the maintenance of the road. I joke that this must be the last plantation in Guatemala. Augusto starts laughing and tells me that his uncle actually has the last plantation in Guatemala, just a few hundred meters down the road. Getting there was quite a challenge but standing on the mill, looking over the valley that lead into Mexico made it all worth it.
Finca Potosi is a plantation that has been in the family for four generations. Augusto is a modern young man who returned after university to take over the plantation from his father. Talking to him he breaths ambition. He’s ready to take the quality of the coffee to the next level. Cézar’s health doesn’t allow him to lead the plantation anymore, but he still keeps a close eye on the whole process. He uses his experience to slow down of fine tune his son whenever he wants too much.
Augusto talks passionately about his ideas of experimenting with different varieties and processing methods. This is the new generation of coffee farmers that is ready to excel and take specialty coffee to a higher level. What an inspiring start of this trip. On the long, bumpy way back I wonder if this is a rule or an exception and get very excited about the trips ahead. So stay tuned! The coming weeks I will be keeping you posted about coffee in Central America on my trip with the Coffee Quest.