Guatemala Trip, Part 5: Guatemala Dept.
The conclusion of our sourcing team's trip brings them to Guatemala Department, where Bicafe provides dry milling for Finca Santa Ana and Finca El Socorro—as well as the Guatemala Cup of Excellence competition. Then on to their final stop: Juan Diego de la Cerda's Finca El Socorro.
"The drive from Guatemala City to La Providencia in Huehuetenango earlier in the trip took around 8 hours. Lots of beautiful sights along the way, but clearly a time commitment. The return was quicker: starting just a few years ago, daily domestic flights make the trip in about 30 minutes. The view is pretty great too!"
"Our first visit to Bicafe was a rewarding stop on the way to El Socorro. Significant infrastructural investments in 2019 and 2020 have expanded their capabilities to micro- and nano-lot milling and processing of honeys and naturals. Currently, 40% of the mill's energy needs are met through solar panels. Bicafe is once again preparing the coffees for this year's Guatemalan Cup of Excellence."
"Recycled denim has many uses. These denim scraps were first turned into green coffee bags before being upcycled into this sofa at Bicafe."
"Overlooking El Socorro at nearly 2000m."
"Flat areas are hard to come by at El Socorro. This spot may serve in the near future for some of Juan Diego’s experiments in concentrating resources and yields as a means to tackle input cost increases and labor shortages."
"In 2021, Juan Diego completed renovation of the wet mill structure, raising and reinforcing the roof, adding walkways, and additional safety measures. In tandem with the implementation of solar power that provides nearly all yearly energy needs, the wet mill is noticeably more quiet, breezy, and bright."
"Beautiful cherries of Maracaturra on the tree and, post-harvest, in line to be weighed and poured into the receiving tanks."
"One of the most picturesque lots at El Socorro is right next to the wet mill where
yellow and red Bourbon are intermixed underneath the forest canopy."
"A small piece of the solar infrastructure at the farm."
"Juan Diego explaining the pruning strategy for certain lots. Pruning occurs in rows of two each year so that the yield is only reduced by about one-third annually for a given 3-year cycle."
"A natural process lot that was moved from the patio to the raised beds in the early morning."
"A breathtaking view of the wet mill and the principal valley that divides the El Socorro side from the San Guayaba side. The river that starts high above and carves its way through the valley bottom provides all of the fresh water needed at the mill."
"Laurina is a delicate variety known for its small stature. Juan Diego cited recent research that indicates Laurina typically contains between 30-40% the caffeine content of other predominant arabica varietals. Interestingly, Gesha generally has only 70% the caffeine content of other arabicas.
"The most striking aspect of El Socorro is how green and bountiful it looks. Luckily, not every area or varietal ripens at once. This year, the Bourbon, Java, and Laurina are the first to be picked. Gesha and Pacamara are on track to be the last."
"One thing you rarely see among the coffee trees is bare soil. It’s intentional, of course. A large portion of El Socorro is forest preserve. The native trees not only provide shade where needed but lots of leaves and bark that create a layer of detritus of multifaceted benefit. The layer helps suppress weeds, keeps the soil more cool and moist, and replenishes the organic layer. The more substantial the organic layer, the less shade is needed. Less shade equals more photosynthesis.
"One of the most recently planted areas is a lot of yellow Maracaturra situated at 1925m. Looking forward to tasting this in a couple of years!"