Santa Rosa is Guatemala’s southernmost specialty terroir for coffee. It is named for the department of Santa Rosa; however, the region includes parts of nearby Jalapa, Jutiapa, and even Guatemala departments as well. Generally speaking Santa Rosa is a lush and dense landscape of steep slopes and deep valleys to the east of the Fraijanes plateau, another well-known specialty designation.
Finca Guatalón is a 50-hectare farm owned and managed by Guillermo Juárez and his son, Willy. The family has been producing coffee for more than 60 years and feels a deep passion and connection to their work, and the roasters and consumers who ultimately drink their coffees. Of the 50-hectare parcel 18 are planted with coffee, and are organized by variety, with each bloc established for a single plant type in mind. Varieties range impressively--pache, caturra, bourbon, villa sarchí, pacas, pacamara, maragogype, gesha, and marsellesa are all in production at Finca Guatalón. Bananas, avocados, and citrus fruits are also produced throughout the farm.
Finca Guatalón is part of a three-farm business that also includes Finca La Loma and Finca La Bugambilia. Guillermo took over operations 30 years ago from his own family, and today all farms are managed in equal part by Guillermo and Willy, along with José Maria Pérez, the family’s field manager. Harvesting and processing standards were upgraded 9 years ago with an explicit focus on quality results and relationship-based sales. The majority of the family farms’ coffees in recent years have gone to East Asia, Europe, and Australia, with only small amounts sold to buyers in the United States.
The Juárez family uses a very specific processing system that involves a “pre-fermentation” step, something that used to be considered highly experimental but which in recent years has become much more widespread and considered a reliable way to boost perceptible fruit sweetness in the final cup. Once fresh cherry has been picked and inspected, the fruit is allowed to rest and “pre-ferment” in whole cherry for 18 hours, after which it is depulped and fermented in a tank for 24 hours. Once the full fermentation is complete, the parchment is washed and patio-dried for 10 days, or moved to raised beds for a longer, slower dry, depending on the anticipated quality. After drying the final parchment is stored in the estate’s warehouse for a minimum of 90 days to allow the finished coffee to rest and for flavor and water activity to stabilize. In addition to fully washed processing, the Juárez family produces natural, honey, anaerobic (reduced oxygen) fermentations, and other experimental type profiles.