Guatemala Santa Isabel

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Farm:  Finca Santa Isabel
Owner:  Luis Valdez
Region:  Coban
Altitude: 1,400 - 1,600 metres
Process:  Fully washed, sundried & finished in mechanical driers
Varietals:  Caturra & Catuai

Creamy mouthfeel, complex with good sweetness and a rounded acidity, toffee, cocoa, subtle pineapple and golden peach flavours.

Finca Santa Isabel has been growing coffee since 1890.  Luis and his son (also named Luis) manage the farm.  They start their coffee shrub nursery under shade using polyurethane bags from May until August and then plant 15 months later.  They run soil test analysis throughout the farm to program their fertilisation and pest control plan, part of the nutrients applied to the plants are composted pulp from the previous crop which is then used from May to November every year.

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 very staggered, with 8-9 flowerings per year. Due to this prolonged flowering season, coffee ripens at different stages, which means that up to 10 passes (with breaks of up to 14 days between passes) are needed to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are selected.

After harvesting, the red cherries are taken to the farm receiving tanks by truck or - if at walking distance - by foot. They are then mechanically pulped. Coffee is fermented for up to 48 hours and is covered at night to maintain constant temperatures. After fermentation, the coffee is washed and then soaked in clean water for 24 hours to remove any traces of mucilage before being dried.

All coffee at Finca Isabel is 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. Usually, after spending one day on the patio, the coffee is stored overnight in wooden boxes before being moved to the greenhouses to dry between 15 and 30 days, or until a minimum of 30% humidity is reached. Much of the coffee is then finished in guardiolas according to a very strict and controlled drying schedule. Coffee is rotated in these mechanical driers at no more than 40°C and is rested between dryings to stabilise humidity. Once the parchment coffee reaches a constant 15% humidity, it is rested for at least 21 days in the warehouse before being delivered to the dry mill for milling.

The farm trains and employs around 40 permanent workers to do the most important activities on the coffee fields, as well as some 300 temporary employees for the coffee harvesting, which begins in November and goes all the way through to April.  De-pulping takes place the very same day the coffee is hand-picked, the fermentation process takes approximately 16 hours, and after washing the coffee beans with clean water, the beans are soaked overnight.  If the weather allows it the entire harvest will be sundried.

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