Guatemala’s Fraijanes plateau is a lateral stretch of humid and high-elevation territory heavily influenced by the Pacaya volcano, Guatemala’s most active by far. Fraijanes as a whole is full of microclimates and dense, lush ridges with lots of cloud cover. The region is not named for a national department like Huehuetenango, but a geographical denomination recognized for its unique coffee terroir, similar to Antigua, Lake Atitlán, or Cobán. Fraijanes extends from the Pacaya volcano east and south across the Guatemala and Santa Rosa departments and into the Jutiapa and Jalapa departments.
Finca El Carmen y Anexos is a 200-hectare estate in the community of El Carmen, along the upper reaches of the mountains encircling lake Pino, in the Santa Rosa department. The farm’s elevation is slightly lower than many in the greater Fraijanes plateau and the coffee comes across soft, smooth and sweet with baker’s chocolate, pluot and cherry flavors, and with a satisfying cakey tactile that gives the coffee a full mouthfeel at a variety of roast profiles.
The farm has been in production since the 1950s but it wasn’t purchased by the Morales family until 1970, when Rigoberto Morales Santos took over. El Carmen y Anexos employs 350 people on the farm throughout harvest. As a large working farm, plots of land are set aside for subsistence crops like corn and beans, financial assistance is made available to all employees free of interest, and end of harvest cash bonuses are distributed to all farm labor. Rigoberto’s son, Ivan Ricardo Morales, is the farm’s current owner and manager, overseeing not only bourbon and caturra varieties but also catuaí, pacamara, obata (a Brazilian sarchimor known for high yield and delicate, sweet profiles), and gesha. All of these have been closely studied for individual cup potential since 2017 as part of a quality reinvigoration, in order to establish a hierarchy of varieties and specific processing methods for each that will allow El Carmen y Anexos to have a long-term diversity of coffees to offer the world.
During harvest, fresh picked cherry is collected by truck throughout the farm and brought to the central wet mill where it is siphoned from the truck into a large mechanical depulper. After depulping, the coffee ferments for 24 hours, is washed, and classified into various grades before being set to dry on open patios or rotating mechanical dryers. Fully dried parchment is stored on property until it is conditioned and ready to be transferred for dry milling and export.