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Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon
Maria Ramirez Vargas
2022 marks our 10th anniversary working with Primavera Coffee, a Guatemala-based, women-owned coffee importer founded by our good friend and respected coffee expert Nadine Rasch. Through our relationship with Primavera, Caravan is proud to support many female coffee producers, contributing to our commitment to purchase 50% of all our coffee from female farmers. One of those farmers, who we had the great privilege of meeting in person this February on our first visit to Guatemala since 2019, is Maria Ramirez. We’ve featured Maria’s coffee for four years in a row, consistently impressed by the unique flavours and stunning clarity present in the cup.
Maria lives in the district of Concepción Huista, a remote area in the department of Huehuetenango which shares a border with Mexico. Huehuetenango is an incredibly diverse cultural region where over 75% of inhabitants are members of several indigenous communities who have lived here for centuries. Maria herself is a member of the Jakaltek people, whose native language, Poptí, is spoken by only 60,000 people. During our meeting with Maria this year, members of her cooperative generously offered to assist with translation, as Maria – like many older farmers in the area – does not speak Spanish. For Andrea, our Head of Coffee, the chance to speak with Maria and get to know more about her farm, her passion for coffee, and her community was an honour, and we are grateful to Maria and the members of Cooperative El Sendero for taking the time to meet with us during our visit.
During our conversation, we learned more about exactly why Maria’s coffee is always so consistently delicious each year – in a nutshell, Maria is an expert at precise and controlled processing. To begin with, as the coffee reaches peak ripeness, Maria relies on members of her family to assist with harvesting – a resource that is absolutely crucial in Huehuetenango, where labour is scarce and prohibitively expensive for many farmers. Instead of picking everything at once, they select only the ripest cherries, leaving those that are not yet ready on the trees. In the early afternoon, once the day’s picking is complete, Maria and her family put all the day’s cherries into water, skimming off any floating cherries (as these tend to be under- or over-ripe) before pulping them by hand. Once pulped, the coffee is fermented under water overnight when temperatures are lowest. The next day, the coffee is rinsed and placed in clean, fresh water for a last soak – a step that is quite uncommon for Guatemala, and which is likely contributing to the coffee’s clean and sparkling acidity.
Good soil and high altitude are conditions that are common in Huehuetenango, where the mountainous landscape is bespeckled with verdant forests. To create quality further than simply advantageous terroir, however, requires real skill and dedication, things that were immediately evident upon speaking with Maria. Amazingly, our meeting was the first time she’d ever met a roaster who buys her coffee, meaning this was the first chance to share with her how much we at Caravan and our friends and customers across the world love and appreciate what she does. Thanks to Primavera and Cooperative El Sendero who make this relationship possible, we hope to continue sharing Maria’s story and her delicious coffee for years to come.
Caravan Coffee Roasters are proud members of 1% for the Planet. For more information please visit https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org
We always like Huehue coffees brewed on a V60 02: Pre-rinse the filter and grind 15g coffee as fine as table-salt. Bloom with 50g of 96c fresh, soft water, stirring the bloom thoroughly. Pour to 250g of water for a 1:16 ratio, finishing pouring at 1:45. Stir the top of the slurry in a circle twice to prevent coffee sticking to the sides of the paper and allow to draw down, aiming for 2:30-3m total brewing time.