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Our first natural process from Guatemala, it has lower acidity than the Ethiopian naturals, while still having a fruity profile. Blackberry, mango are the first flavors we picked up, with guava, red currant following and just the most subtlest of chocolate coming through as the cup cooled. It feels like an Ethiopian natural without the acidity or strong citrus profile.
These beans come from the southeastern part of Guatemala, in a very rural, inaccessible, mountainous area above Laguna de Ayarza (locally known as “Blue Lake”), where there are less than 10 homes in total around its perimeter. Cold, deep and pristine, the lake is said to be formed by two massive volcanoes that collapsed into a large crater, parts of the bottom having never been found. The beloved lake is part of legendary folklore for the locals. Because natural process coffee beans have more rigorous requirements, only those grown in the 5,500-6,000 elevation are selected.
Due to the hilly conditions where the beans are grown, the natural process beans are transported to a neighboring region where there is flatter land available for drying them in the sun, with sufficient breezes to blow over them. Laid out in layers of 3-4″ deep, they are dried for 5-6 days while being constantly turned during the day. The cherries go from red or yellow to purple, and then black. They are then finished for a half a day in mechanical dryers, this final process helping to control the acidity and ensure a final dry process without any pesky rain showers that may cause re-absorption of rainwater.
This washed process bean is flavorful and rich, with a lower citrus profile, as is typical w/ most grown in Central and South America. Featuring distinct flavor notes of creamy dark chocolate, cherry, plum and even a hint of cola, balanced by more subtle mango and apple that come through as the coffee cools.
The beans originate from the Finca el Tambor farm in the Palencia municipality of Guatemala, featuring 8 full time workers who are allowed to farm about 10% of the farm to grow vegetables for themselves. The name translates to “The Drum Farm”, inspired by an underground waterfall that once pulsed the land with a drumming sound. Interestingly, the owner, Victor Calderon, a fifth generation coffee grower, is a big proponent of sustainable growing methods. He has chosen to leave half of the farm under forest, has his team weed mechanically rather than use pesticides, and uses smaller scale machines to process the beans, resulting in very low energy consumption, less than 10 gallons of diesel for an entire harvest season. The farm also captures some of the 50 inches of rain water that falls during the rainy season and later uses it to process the beans in addition to the two dozen fresh water springs that run through the 5,000+ foot altitude property. The farm also uses a unique method of employing shade trees from avocado and cinnamon to help protect the coffee trees.
The beans from the various parts of the farm are kept separate and processed separately, then washed in the retained rainwater, de-pulped, and then dried and turned frequently on concrete patios. The varietals include Bourbon and Caturra.