Category Archives: guatemala coffee

Farm to Cup: Caffe Vita & Jackson 20 Travel to Guatemala

| December 17, 2014

For many years, Caffe Vita has sourced excellent coffee through our farm direct partnerships in Guatemala, one of the most prized coffee producing regions in Central America.

Coffee cherries.

Coffee cherries in Guatemala.

Usually, our Green Coffee Buyer Daniel visits the farms on his own but last week, a special guest from Alexandria, VA came along for the ride. Chef Brian McPherson of Jackson 20 has served Caffe Vita since opening six years ago. Located in the Hotel Monaco by Kimpton, Jackson 20 was named after President Andrew Jackson and is known for contemporary versions of traditional American classics.

So how did a Chef from Virginia get to spend six days in Guatemala with Caffe Vita? Long story short, our own, Bob Prince, pitched the idea to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, consistently named one of FORTUNE’s 2014 “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and a longstanding Caffe Vita wholesale account. The goal of trekking six days throughout Guatemala together was to take a talented chef who uses our coffee in his or her restaurant on a journey to witness Caffe Vita’s innovative farm to cup process.

The first week of December, Bob, Daniel and Chef Brian visited current, former and potential new partners in four coffee producing areas of Guatemala. When the trip began last Sunday, it was clear that Guatemalan hospitality would be a common thread throughout their stay.

Chef Brian and Bob Prince

Chef Brian and Bob Prince looking tough at Finca Nuevo Vinas.

First they spent time with the Keller Family in Finca Nuevo Vias where Caffe Vita has sourced coffee for seven years. The community threw a party and roasted a pig to welcome their guests on the last day of their trip in the country, a highlight of the experience according to Daniel. The FNV coffee has been farmed by the Keller family for over 100 years, and in 2003, they made the full transition to organic farming, an expensive and lengthy certification process. This is where Chef Brian first witnessed pulping, where the seed from the coffee cherry is removed from the actual fruit. For six years, he has served Caffe Vita coffee and now he knows exactly where it comes from.

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Chef Brian McPherson holds pulped coffee cherries in Guatemala.

Next, they made their way to Finca Pacamaral to meet the farm’s new owner, Sergio. Vita previously purchased coffee from this land but Daniel was looking forward to meeting with Sergio to discuss a potential partnership in the future.

After Finca Pacamaral, Valmar in Coban was next on the list, where Vita has purchased coffee for the past two years. Coban’s climate this time of year is very similar to Seattle, cold, wet and cloudy. Bob and Daniel felt completely at home surveying the property in their rain gear, and were welcomed into the farm home of the Valdez family.

Coffee cherries dry in the sun at Santo Tomas Pachuj.

Coffee cherries dry in the sun at Santo Tomas Pachuj.

Then it was onto Santo Tomas Pachuj where Andres Fahsen grows coffee near the Lake Atitlán region, a nature preserve. Andres visited with us at Caffe Vita in Capitol Hill when he was in town for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual event last April.

Compost with red worms at Finca Chacaya.

Compost with red worms at Finca Chacaya.

After Santo Tomas Pachuj the team drove to Finca Chacaya, a farm on the western shores of Atitlan that still grows old typica coffee, the first variety of coffee brought to the country and which is now hard to find.

Lastly, the team drove to San Juan Sacatepequez to visit the celebrated farm San Jose Ocana. Guillermo Sanchez gave a wonderful tour and provided a delicious lunch of local cuisine.

To be able to share this unique farm to cup process with Chef Brian was a fantastic experience for Bob and Daniel. Now that he has witnessed it for himself, Chef says that he plans to find new ways to use Vita coffee in his restaurant. Even bringing home dried husks to hopefully make bitters to be used in Jackson 20’s famous bar program.

Connecting with our Guatemalan farmers over long conversations, property tours, cuppings, and special meals with hard working families is certainly an experience these guys will never forget. “Every farmer we met exuded a strong sense of stewardship and pride for their land,” according to Daniel. This is something that Caffe Vita takes into account when searching for the best coffee; it’s about more than just a cup of coffee.

Learn more about how Caffe Vita meticulously sources the best coffee through our farm direct partnerships across the globe and purchase our own Guatemala Valmar single origin coffee today while supplies last.

New Arrival : Finca Pacamaral

| July 30, 2011

Caffe Vita’s most recent trip to Guatemala led to the discovery of this beautiful and rugged farm. Located at the upper limits of coffee cultivation (1700-2000 masl), the terrain provides a challenge for the farmers who work it. The steep hillsides are planted with a predominance of the Pacamara variety (hence the name), along with some Caturra and Catuai. Isote hugs the trails to provide protection against erosion and towering pine and avocado trees supply shade. The farm is owned by Eduardo Castro and managed by Jose ‘el Chepe’.

The cherries are handpicked at peak ripeness and then loaded into a truck for the short drive down to the wet mill at Finca Nuevo Viñas where they are unloaded, sorted by density and de-pulped. After a fermentation period of approximately 24 hours the parchment is washed and then allowed to dry on patios.

The cup is complex and lively with aromas of honeysuckle, melon, and ginger. Flavors of marshmallow, dark chocolate, and dried cherry are buoyed by a lemon juice acidity and sustained in the sweet, persistent finish.

Available online and at our retail locations.

Introducing Eco-friendly Zoo Special Reserve coffee

| April 15, 2011

We are honored to partner with our good friends at the Woodland Park Zoo to release a special product that supports the Zoo and their conservation programs. Our newest coffee, Zoo Special Reserve, is organic and shade-grown using sustainable farming practices. The beans are from a farm in the Santa Rosa district of Guatemala and were certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The farmers who grow this coffee promote biodiversity by setting aside over forty percent of their land as a nature reserve, which protects the habitats of native tropical animals and birds such as gray foxes, armadillos, anteaters, parrots and butterflies.
Caffe Vita will donate $1 to the Woodland Park Zoo for every bag of Zoo Special Reserve sold in our cafes.

The Woodland Park Zoo is raising funds for their Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, which works with indigenous landowners in Papua New Guinea to improve community livelihoods while protecting biodiversity and the habitat of the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo.
The 12-ounce bags of whole beans are available now at our six Seattle locations.