cafe SAN MIGUEL
this coffee comes from the slopes of volcán agua where a group of innovative and industrious farmers are changing the coffee landscape in guatemala
The coffee industry, like so many others in Guatemala, has always been dominated by large landowners with small holder farmers earning as little as 7 cents for a lb of their coffee fruit. But in 2005 seven farmers from San Miguel Escobar along with a volunteer from the US planted an idea and began to process their own beans. From these humble beginnings, this tight knit group have become pioneers in the industry, forming their own coop and an NGO dedicated to supporting other small producers. They acquired access to an export licence and now help an alliance of small coops secure better prices and export their gourmet coffee.
PRODUCER: CAFÉ ARTISANAL SAN MIGUEL ENTRE VOLCANES
FARMERS: 30-MEMBER COOPERATIVE
COMMUNITY: SAN MIGUEL ESCOBAR
REGION: ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
VARIETIES: BOURBON, CATUAI AND CATURRA
ALTITUDE: 1500+ MASL
METHOD: WASHED, SUN-DRIED
RELATIONSHIP: OLD FRIENDS & PARTNERS THROUGH DE LA GENTE
NOTES: LEMON-LIKE CITRUS, FLORAL, SWEET WITH A HINT OF CARAMEL
PRICE PAID TO THE FARMER: 44% ABOVE MARKET RATES
San Miguel Escobar is the Spanish name given to a district of Cuiduad Vieja “old city” that contains the ruins of Guatemala’s second colonial capital. The previous capital was located on the site of a Kakchikel-Maya city, now called Iximche, but sustained indigenous resistance forced the Spanish to relocate to the Almolonga Valley in 1527. As fate would have it, the new colonial seat of government proved equally short-lived when a catastrophic lahar descended from Volcan de Agua in 1541 and destroyed the city forcing the Spanish to move yet again. Despite their precarious location, Cuidad Vieja and its districts which wrap around the base of volcano have endured the mudslides including one in 2010 and many of the 30,000 people who call them home now use the volcanic slopes to grow coffee.
Unfortunately, despite the inviting climate and rich volcanic soil, getting a livelihood from growing coffee is a tough go. The coffee industry, like so many others in Guatemala, has always been dominated by large fincas or estates.
It was only in the 1990’s that small-holder farmers with experience as paid labour at nearby fincas began planting their own coffee trees and by the early 2000’s small coffee farmers were still getting as little as 7-10 cents per pound selling their coffee fruit on the street or to neighbourhood coyotes (middlemen).
That’s why in 2005, a group of seven farmers from the area and a visiting volunteer from the US planted an idea and with a little help in the form of professional development and seed funding, began to process their beans and look for better markets for their gourmet coffee. From these humble beginnings, this tight knit group of farmers have become pioneers in the industry, forming their own cooperative which we now know as Café Artisanal San Miguel Entre Volcanes or “San Miguel between Volcanos Artisanal Coffee”. The coop has since grown to include 30 individual farmers who all work together to produce impeccable, specialty-grade coffee but rather than blend their crops, these artisans bag their coffees individually, making sure that the unique taste that comes from the soil, water, and climate interact with the genetics of the coffee plants—its terroir—is preserved.
They also helped form a Non-profit organization called As Green As It Gets to support other small producers build capacity and commercialize their coffee. Today, AGAIG is known as De La Gente … micro-financing, import…
We are proud to work with both Café Artesanal San Miguel and De La Gente who have taught us so much about coffee production and continue to inspire us to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive coffee industry.
MEET YOUR COFFEE FARMERS
Elena Diego is a 33-year-old mother of four and accomplished coffee producer with over seven years of experience. She is also the president of APCASA. She learned the craft of coffee production from Rigoberto Ramírez and through training with a variety of organizations.
Nowadays, Elena owns and maintains 30 cuerdas of land where together, she and her husband grow Bourbon and Catuai varietals. She is proud to dedicate her life to coffee and is proud to pass the knowledge on to her children by teaching them and involving them in the process of every harvest.