Finca El Pilar is a family farm located near the small but sprawling city of San Juan Sacatepéquez, in the northern mountains of the Guatemala Department, the country’s capitol region. Although not far from Guatemala City, the landscape here is remote and mountainous, with coffee farms averaging 400 meters higher in elevation than nearby Antigua, to the south. So, while typical harvest months on the whole are similar to elsewhere in central Guatemala, the peak of harvest, and by far the best qualities, usually occurs at the beginning of March.
El Pilar is almost 280 hectares in its entirely, 190 of which remains preserved forest. 90 hectares are planted with coffee. For the past 5 years Juan Carlos Chen, Pilar’s owner, has been renovating the coffee operation and updating the farm’s technology to better manage both the coffee and the surrounding forest ecosystem, the latest of which involves satellite technology to diagnose soil composition for more precise fertilization—something that helps reduce overall inputs where not necessary, and also better minimize runoff and groundwater health.
While the farm is not certified organic, organic methods are prioritized throughout. Organic certified inputs are used wherever possible, and all plant matter produced from pruning and processing contributes to organic manure for the coffee plants.
El Pilar’s coffee is deliciously sweet and balanced, with papaya and sweet banana flavors, a layered mouthfeel and a fragrant, almost cinnamon-like nose that lingers well past the end of the sip.