Farm: CooperativaSan Andres
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
Altitude: 1500 - 1950 masl
Owner: 32 shareholder farmers
Town / City: San Lucas Tolimán
Overall: Milk chocolate, toffee, raisin
Cooperativa San Andrés - Guatemala
Made up of 32 small farms, the San Andres Cooperative resides in the valley between Volcán Atitlan and Volcán Tolimán, two stratovolcanoes that rest next to Lake Atitlan in the Sololá region in southwestern Guatemala.
Most members of this diverse group of Kaqchikel coffee producers live and work in the nearby town of Patulul. Traditionally acquiring their farms by inheriting the land from their parents, Members of Cooperativa San Andrés carry with them vast amounts of coffee farming knowledge gained from generations of experience. Most farms average ½ a hectare to 3 hectares in size, with coffee grown as the primary crop.
The area has unfortunately seen many periods of turmoil. Between1960-1996, the region was plagued with extreme violence due to the civil war. This resulted in much distrust and friction among the people of this community, meaning farmers were wary of one another, especially outsiders.
The crash of the c-market in 2001, bringing the price of coffee to an all-time low of 0.41 USD per pound as well as a large leaf rust outbreak in 2013, finally resulted in many farms abandoning their land, resulting in many producers looking for work elsewhere in the region.
Fortunately, hope was not lost among Cooperativa San Andrés. Those who remained established trust amongst one another, and started working together. Having high-quality ancient bourbon varietals, along with other common varietals such as Caturra, Catimor, Typica and Sarchimor, gave these farmers the ability to generate profit. The members began to organize an efficient method of compiling and sending coffee cherries for processing and exportation. Passion and enthusiasm for the cultivation of coffee were once again ignited in San Andres and continues today. The producers are constantly striving to develop cultivation and harvesting techniques, improving the quality of coffee, as well as their quality of life.
During harvest, the cherries are selectively handpicked when at their ripest. Once picked, they are then sorted according to size, colour and maturity, to remove any cherries that may be over or under-ripe, as well as sorting any foreign contaminants such as sticks and stones. The sorted coffee is then taken roughly 80km to the wet mill, Beneficio La Esperanza, in Antigua. Here, the coffee cherry is pulped, undergoing a process of fermentation for an average of 36 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. The coffee is then washed and laid out to dry for 10-12 days on patios. Due to the climate, if the region experiences high levels of rain, drying is usually finished in the mill's mechanical dryers.