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El Retiro Quisaya

Coffee first arrived in Guatemala in the 18th century with Jesuits to the monasteries of Antigua. Estates began to spread over the following 150 years, primarily owned by European colonists. The country gained independence in 1821, and coffee production soared, making Guatemala an important coffee producer. The Agrarian Reform Law was passed in 1952, redistributing the land of 1,700 estates to nearly 500,000 locals and indigenous peoples. However, a civil war ensued for 36 years, hindering coffee production.

Soon, coffee regained its prominence, and Guatemala is now home to some exceptional coffees. A quarter of the population are in some way involved with growing or processing coffee. Near the town of Jilotepeque in the Chimaltenango region, is the expansive farm of Finca El Retiro del Quisaya.

The farm was established 100 years ago by the Ortega family and was recently sold to the Arabigos del Sur organization. The name of the farm comes from a river that runs within the land.

  • Farm El Retiro Quisaya
  • Varietal Pache
  • Process Fully washed
  • Altitude 1,800 metres above sea level
  • Town / City San Martin Jilotepeque
  • Region Chimaltenango
  • Owner Arabigos del Sur, S.A.
  • Tasting Notes Vanilla ice cream, molasses, berries
  • Farm Size 550 hectares
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El Retiro Quisaya

During the harvest, the cherries are carefully handpicked and delivered to the mill located on the farm. After sorting, the cherries are pulped with an eco-pulper to remove the external fruit and fermented in aerobic tanks for 14 hours. The beans are then washed and put through a centrifuge machine to remove any remaining mucilage. They are then dispersed on patios to dry in the open sun for ten days.

About Guatemala

Coffee has helped fuel Guatemala’s economy for over a hundred years. Today, an estimated 125,000 coffee producers drive Guatemala’s coffee industry and coffee remains one of Guatemala’s principal export products, accounting for 40% of all agricultural export revenue.

It is most likely that Jesuit missionaries introduced coffee to Guatemala, and there are accounts of coffee being grown in the country as early as mid-18th century. Nonetheless, as in neighbouring El Salvador, coffee only became an important export crop for the country at the advent of synthetic dyes and industrialisation of textiles – in the mid-19th century. Throughout the latter half of the 1800s, various government programs sought to promote coffee as a means to stimulate the economy, including a massive land privatisation program initiated by President Justo Rufino Barrias in 1871, which resulted in the creation of large coffee estates, many of which still produce some of Guatemala’s best coffees today.