2019 Origin Trip to Guatemala
During the summer of 2019 I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala with a group of coffee professionals from around the country. That's me below in the Michigan shirt (go blue!). My sister, Tia, is to my right.
As an up-and-coming roaster this served as a great opportunity to for me connect with local farmers and understand the processes and challenges that growers face on the front ends of the bean-to-cup process. I also thought that it would be important for me to familiarize myself with green coffee terminology and processes as well as develop a fundamental understanding of those processes through first-hand experience.
We visited various regions of Guatemala including the city of Antigua, spending time at San Miguel Coffee's el Tempixque farm. The guy to the right of me in the picture below is Don Edgar and spending a day with him talking and learning all things coffee was a real treat.
We also visited a small town called San Jose Paoquil and met with a woman-led co-op by the name of La Asuncion. During our visit we were welcomed as special guests to room of live music and formal introductions. The La Asuncion co-op represents several generations of women farmers and they explained how the co-op in some cases provides community funding for the town members. Additionally, one of the more interesting stories that I learned during our visit was the impact of climate change on farming. One example was a story of how the little old lady in the picture waters her entire farm because they haven't gotten as much rain and don't have the means for irrigation.
The final part of my visit involved spending time with a group of farmers in San Martin Jilotepeque. This was an interesting visit given our tour of a farm nestled within mountain hills. During our walk through a few hectares we learned about issues like "coffee rust" which is a fungus that adversely affects coffee plants and is identifiable by rust colored spots on the leaves. Interestingly this is another effect of climate change because the rust needs warmer, humid environments the thrive. On the other hand, apparently climate change has allowed farmers to expand higher altitudes which traditionally would be too cold for coffees to thrive. Go figure.