Lake Atitlan is likely one of the most iconic landmarks in Guatemala. If you take your eye off the shimmering beauty of the lake for a moment, you may notice that the surrounding mountains are home to many small coffee farms that belong to people from the Quiché Mayan communities that encircle Lake Atitlan. Families with farms that average just a few acres in size have partnered with an export company called Unitrade to process their harvest. Farmers deliver their cherries to a central mill located in San Pedro de La Laguna. In the pulped natural process, also called a honey process, Unitrade pulps ripened cherries and then dries the coffee beans, still covered in mucilage, on patios while constantly turning the beans to ensure even drying.
After drying, the coffee is moved to Unitrade’s dry mill where it is prepared for export. The consistent processing produces a traceable community blend that stands out on the international market and earns better prices for farmers. Unitrade has also established funds for community-based development through a non-profit organization called Coffee Care.