Guatemala – 11
  • Río Azul - El Magnífico
  • Río Azul - El Magnífico
  • Río Azul - El Magnífico

Río Azul

Cupping notes

Sweet, molasses and hazelnut.
Strong acidity. Smooth body.


The Cooperative

The history of the Río Azul Cooperative goes back to the late 1970s. At the time, it was part of a much larger cooperative called Fedecocagua, made up of many small farmers from Huehuetenango who had to transport their coffee to the city for export.

In 2001, Cooperativa Río Azul became an independent entity. Its member farms and communities are located around the mountainous municipality of Jacaltenango in the Huehuetenango region, and the cooperative consists of 254 producers, 500 associates and seven board members. Each small farmer in the cooperative works around 11 hectares of land per farm, with these small farms making up 244 hectares of the cooperatives’ coffee farms. There have been many improvements to the infrastructure over the years, due to technical and financial assistance from the cooperative, and with the support of other organisations, Río Azul boasts its own processing plant, drying patios and storage warehouse.


At harvest, only the ripest cherries are picked, pulped on the same day and placed in fermentation tanks for 24 hours. Once the mucilage has detached from the grain, they are left to dry in the sun for five days.


Like many of the Central and South American colonies, coffee arrived in Guatemala at the end of the 18th century, but its cultivation only began to take hold in the 1860s, with the arrival of European immigrants 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. 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.

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