Flavor Profile Kiwi, black cherry, lime caramel, cocoa
Antigua estates and small producers organized around Los Volcanes Coffee
1550 – 1900 masl
Bourbon, Catuaí, Gesha
Antigua, Sacatepéquez Department, Guatemala
January - May
The city of Antigua is in many ways a modern coffee Eden. It’s iconic, laid back, gorgeously ornate, and for a city of its size it is absolutely teeming with historic coffee infrastructure. Coffees from most of the Sacatepéquez department is known simply as “Antigua”, and their sugar profiles range from butterscotch to marzipan sweetness, and acids from lemonade-like piquancy to dessert wine or tangy dried fruit.
Guatemala’s best centralized wet mills and boutique exporters are based in Antigua. There are hundreds of farms in the area, from the city’s legacy estates to patchwork smallholder communities climbing most of the way up Volcán de Agua, one of three looming stratovolcanoes that seem to be visible from every street corner in town and play a large part in Antigua’s famous soil composition. Such a variety of producers begets coffees with endless combinations of microclimates, elevations and varieties. There is a lot to work with here, and a lot of talent.
“Farms of Antigua” is a flagship coffee program created by Los Volcanes Coffee to showcase what they consider to be a “true” terroir of the entire Antigua valley—something that in their experience can only be achieved by blending different producers together. As processors and millers, Los Volcanes has access to a wide variety of producers, from Antigua’s historic valley estates to smallholders high on the neighboring volcanic slopes.
At Los Volcanes’ wet mill cherry is delivered daily throughout harvest. Upon delivery it is sorted for uniformity, depulped, and fermented for up to 48 hours in a covered, temperature-controlled warehouse of ceramic tanks. Los Volcanes employs dedicated processing managers calibrated to a combination of temperature and smell to manage precise degrees of fermentation and maintain consistency across batches of varying volumes, temperatures, and humidity levels. After fermentation is complete, parchment is passed through a pressurized water siphon for cleaning and density grading, and then dried on the site’s large patio or in mechanical dryers. As batches of parchment finish drying throughout the harvest, the Los Volcanes team works with each individual lot in their cupping lab, blind-tasting coffee from the smallest and most remote producers next to that of the largest and most established. “Farms of Antigua” is a series of small blends made this way which, though subtly different from one another, all harmoniously evoke the best attributes a roaster can find in Antigua coffees: milk chocolate and buttercream sweetness, citrus zest, dried tropical fruit, jammy acids, and mouthwatering aromatics.
Los Volcanes is a tight-knit processing and exporting team who expertise in agronomy and processing is interwoven throughout Guatemala, thanks to their many years of experience as cuppers, roasters, exporters, relationship managers, and educators. Indeed, the name “Los Volcanes” appears on a wide variety of coffees Royal imports each year. The founding team at Los Volcanes is known for breaking down a single farm’s harvest into hundreds of data points (compost formulas, genetics, shade variance, picking rates, fermentation times and temperatures, drying styles, and on and on) and re-building custom harvesting protocols for farm managers based on their experience and cupping acumen. Naturally, over time, Los Volcanes began to co-manage farms with their supplier partners. Finally, a few years ago they took over the operation of a large-scale wet mill in Antigua, complete with adjacent coffee farm, and moved their headquarters there from Guatemala City. They now centrally process cherry from dozens of select farms and smallholder communities, bringing their fermentation precision to an unprecedented scale, and building incredibly delicious, affordable macro lots that present refined terroirs and consistent preparation.