Region: Alta Verapaz, Cobán Altitude: 1,400 - 1,600 metres above sea level Varietal: Caturra Process: Extended fermentation, washed Producer: Valdés Family Awards: Guatemala Cup of Excellence #8 in 2011; #3 in 2012
Some of the finest that Guatemala has to offer, Santa Isabel contains characteristic sweetness with notes of Kyoho grapes, honey blossom and milk chocolate. The cup is rich and syrupy in mouthfeel with a mellow, pleasant acidity.
Recommended for pour-over, stove top, Aeropress and French Press.
Santa Isabel lies near San Cristóbal Verapaz in the misty alpine town of Cobán. The landscape here is beautiful, evoking a rural idyll where the weather is cool with lots of rain. The farm has been in the Valdés family for five generations and is currently owned and managed by Luis Valdés Sr and his son, Luis (nicknamed "Wicho").
Wicho’s background in agronomy, combined with his passion for coffee farming, has led him to implement experimental practices that let the terroir shine. Plants are pruned according to a fixed cycle that is further fine-tuned according to each plant’s need for aeration and light. This helps to minimise applications of chemical fertilisers and pest control – in some cases, reducing by half what their neighbours apply.
The annual precipitation at Santa Isabel is around 3,500mm, with regular rainfall between nine and ten months of the year. Constant rain (much of it gentle drizzle) means that flowering is staggered, with 8-9 flowerings per year. Due to this prolonged flowering season, coffee ripens at different stages, and up to 10 passes are needed to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are picked.
With such careful and detailed farming, it is no surprise that their quality was recognised twice in the Guatemala Cup of Excellence. A distinction that speaks to their commitment to coffee excellence.
After harvesting, the red cherries are taken to the farm’s receiving tanks by truck or - if at walking distance - by foot. They are then pulped and fermented for up to 48 hours before being washed and then soaked in clean water for 24 hours to remove any traces of mucilage.
It is then dried for at least one day on the patios – though full patio drying is only possible towards the end of the harvest, when the risk of rain is reduced. After spending one day on the patio, the coffee is stored overnight before being moved to the greenhouses to dry between 15 and 30 days on raised beds.