Most look to western Guatemala for coffee, but there is something exciting to offer right in the center of the country. Finca San Lorenzo is a 225 acre estate in the less traveled department of Alta Verapaz near the city of Coban. Luis Valdés, affectionately called “Wicho” to distinguish him from his father and grandfather who are also named Luis, has been running San Lorenzo since 1999. Wicho started following his father around the estate when he was young and later earned an agricultural engineering degree before taking the reins. Constant rain year-round at Finca San Lorenzo creates some unique challenges. Wicho has used his life-long experience and education to overcome this obstacle. The entire estate is terraced to protect against erosion during the heavy summer rains. Wicho has also created several different drying strategies (raised beds and mechanical dryers) to cope with the unpredictability of winter rains during the harvest.
Dried parchment is taken to San Isabel, a dry mill in Guatemala City. San 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.