Coffee
Guatemala María Mateo - El Magnífico

Guatemala María Mateo

The Farm (La Finca)

María is a second-generation coffee producer living within the Mayan community of Popti, in Concepción Huista, a municipality in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. After several years working as a day labourer, she inherited the lands left to her by her parents and took up their mantle with great enthusiasm. For María, caring for the environment and monitoring the quality of the coffee are paramount.
Characteristically meticulous with all of the farm’s processes, María produces a micro-lot of exceptional quality, thanks in no small part to her studies at the El Sendero cooperative. This cooperative provides support to coffee growers in the area, particularly by offering tools aimed at fostering self-sufficiency. Additionally, the cooperative emphasises gender equality and gives special support to young female producers.

Process

Cherries are picked at the peak point of ripeness. They are taken to the pulper, and afterwards the grains with mucilage still attached are set to ferment in tanks with minimal water for approximately 32 hours.
After this period, the grains are moved to the drying beds, where they remain for about 6 days. They are turned every 40 minutes to ensure even drying.

Origin

Like many of the Central and South American colonies, coffee arrived in Guatemala in the late 18th century, but its cultivation only began to take hold in the 1860s with the arrival of European immigrants who had been encouraged by the Guatemalan government to establish plantations.
Coffee seeds and seedlings were distributed as a stimulus as the country’s main export crop (indigo) had recently failed, leaving the population somewhat desperate to find an agricultural replacement. By the end of the 19th century, Guatemala was exporting more than 140 tons of coffee a year and up until 2011 it was among the five largest coffee producers in the world, only recently surpassed by Honduras.
A large percentage of the Guatemalan population (and in turn of the coffee sector) identifies with one of the more than 20 officially recognized indigenous groups. Most of the farmers are small growers who work independently of each other or are formally affiliated with cooperatives.
In 1960, coffee growers created their own guild, which has since become the Anacafé National Coffee Institute, acting as a research centre, marketing agent, and financial institution offering loans and support to producers in the different regions.
Ceiba coffee comes from the renowned Huehuetenango region, known worldwide for its mountains with waterfalls, exuberant vegetation, high altitudes, dense forests and, of course, the quality and diversity of its coffees.
Thanks to the hot, dry winds blowing from the mountains of the Tehuantepec, Mexico plain, the region is protected from frost, allowing the hillsides of Huehuetenango to be cultivated at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres.
The extreme remoteness of the Huehuetenango region requires all producers to process their own coffee.
Fortunately, the region has an endless myriad of rivers and streams, so a mill can be set up almost anywhere.

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