Finca San Miguel Urias is a 90-hectare estate planted entirely with coffee near the town of Acatenango, a rural community just north of the massive 13,000ft Acatenango volcano, in the lower region of Guatemala’s Chimaltenango department. The farm’s history traces back to the early 1700s when Don Miguel Eustaquio de Urias first acquired the property. In 1938 when the current lineage of owners moved onto the farm, the original foundation still contained a fountain whose plaque bore the name “D. Miguel Urias” and the year of the fountain’s dedication: 1739.
Since 1938 the farm has been in the Valdés/Leal families, beginning with Don Felix Valdés Quiñones, who inherited the property from his mother after her death, then passed it to his wife, who eventually passed it to her son in law, Don Héctor Ricardo Leal Pivaral, who took control in the 1980s and continues to manage the farm to this day along with his family—which currently includes members of the extended family’s fifth generation. The coffees from here are decadent and smooth with cashew butter and marzipan-like richness, vanilla and mandarin orange flavors, and a crisp, bright finish.
As with many longstanding family farms, renovation and reinvestment is a constant activity. The Leal family is re-planting select parts of the farm with new varieties of coffee which, unlike bourbon and caturra, are considered much less traditional for Guatemala. Raised beds and dedicated greenhouses for drying parchment are also in use in select cases, and the family is currently evaluating the results from natural processing experiments run in the past 2 years.
San Miguel Urias runs a day care for the children of the farm’s 120 employees and financially supports the local school system, as well as donates water produced by the property’s natural spring and offers interest-free credit to all employees for their financial needs.