Sierra de las Minas is a mountain range in Guatemala that crosses multiple departments and is considered one of the country’s essential coffee terroirs. The mountains are in Guatemala’s southeast, forming an east-west ridge just below Lake Izabal that is covered mostly in a cloud forest climate, infamous for its relentless drizzle, known locally as the “chipi chipi”.
Finca La Florida was established in 1960 by Teodoro’s father, with whom Teodoro worked side by side until his passing in 2012. As a fourth generation coffee farmer, Teodoro naturally decided to continue the family farm after his father’s death. The farm is 70 hectares of blended coffee production and natural forest, organized by variety: La Florida is 40% villa sarchi, 25% caturra, 25% pacamara, and 10% assorted others. Teodoro and his family also manage Finca La Bella, adjacent to La Florida, whose caturra Royal is also carrying this year.
Processing at Finca La Florida begins with a quality verification of cherry quality coming in from the field. All cherry received for processing is then submerged into water, for three reasons: to clean the cherry and eliminate floaters and to lower the temperature of the cherry, which often arrives hot from the field. After cleaning the cherry is allowed a cool rest as a pre-fermenation step, allowing the entire cherry to soften somewhat and for sugars to increase inside. Depulping is done with recycled water using a demucilager (also known as an aqua- or eco-pulper) to power-wash some of the softened mucilage from the seed, after which the parchment is left to ferment overnight. After fermentation, the parchment is classified by density in a long canal and then is left to rest for 12-18 hours in fresh water. Finally, the fully washed and cleaned parchment is moved to solar dryers for 4-5 days, after which the drying is completed mechanically with the use of a Guardiola (a slowly-turning perforated drum filled with warm air). Mechanical drying is almost essential in this kind of climate, whose consistent humidity is a constant threat to drying and storing coffee. Nonetheless, Teodoro has managed to succeed with a variety of processing styles, including anaerobic fermentations, honey, and full natural.
The team at Finca La Florida considers itself an integral part of the surrounding natural ecosystem, and bases the majority of their farm inputs off of local and regenerative sources: plantains are planted throughout the farm to provide natural fertilizer and shade, natural fungicides are mixed with natural alcohols to prevent mold in the mountains’ damp climate, water use is minimized through reclamation, treatment, and recycling, and vermiculture is used to generate compost fed with coffee pulp.