Location is often the defining characteristic of a coffee. This is certainly true of the growing region that surrounds Antigua, Guatemala. But contrary to what might be said, location is not everything, especially with climate change impacting traditional growing regions across the globe. In the municipality of San Martín Jilotepeque in the department of Chimaltenango, indigenous families who have been cultivating coffee for generations are feeling the impact from weather events like a drought in 2018, which seriously reduced production in the area. Despite these challenges, producers with farms that average 3 acres in size are learning new strategies to protect their farms and continue to focus on harvesting fully maturated cherries. These cherries are taken to La Esperanza, a mill with a storied history of receiving and processing coffee with traceability to the surrounding Antigua area, which is renowned for its cup profile and protected with its own origin mark.
Fermentation tanks at La Esperanza, located in an enclosed building, are often heated with the same forced air used to heat the mechanical dryers to maintain a relatively consistent 36-hour fermentation protocol despite sporadically cold conditions in Antigua.
Coffee is washed mechanically after fermentation and then pumped to a silo to remove water and pre-dry. The mill is equipped with mechanical dryers (guardiolas) and patios. Water is well managed and properly treated.
Dried parchment is taken to Santa Isabel, a dry mill in Guatemala City. Santa Isabel is equipped with multiple pieces of equipment to sort green coffee typical in most dry mills, such as, gravity beds, screens and electronic eyes. The mill also has a piece of equipment called a catadora, which is placed immediately after the dehuller and operates like a wind channel to remove broken and less dense coffee beans. Mild weather in Guatemala City provides ideal conditions for storing parchment in the warehouse until it is time to export.