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Finca Santa Isabel Guatemala

Coffee Story
Coffee Review

Coffee Story

Finca Santa Isabel, 300 acres located near San Cristobal Verapaz, was granted to the Valdes family by Guatemala's President in 1875. The farm was lost to the family, sadly, when it was inherited by a nephew who sold it to a third party. The Valdes family, however, was determined to get their farm back and it was purchased again in 1960 by Luis Valdes. He started producing coffee in 1965.

The farm is now run by Don Luis and his son Luis (nicknamed Wicho). Luis 1V (5 years old) spends his school holidays at the farm, much like his father did when he was young.

When Don Luis first planted the farm with Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai, Coban didn't have the greatest reputation for producing high-quality coffee. This was partly because coffee from the region was mechanically dried due to the humid climate. Don Luis and his son, however, were determined to improve the quality of their coffee. They worked on improving cultivation techniques and perfecting their drying practices. Wicho’s background in agronomy, combined with his passion for coffee farming, has led to the implementation of experimental practices that are paying off in terms of greatly reduced chemical inputs and improved quality.

The annual precipitation at Santa Isabel is around 3,500mm, with regular rainfall 9 to 10 months each year. Constant rain (much of it gentle drizzle) means that flowering is very staggered with 8-9 flowerings per year. Due to this prolonged flowering season, coffee ripens at different stages, which means that up to 10 passes (with breaks of up to 14 days between passes) are needed to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are selected.

Santa Isabel trains and employs 40 permanent workers year-around and up to 500 seasonal laborers are brought in for the coffee harvest. Many farms in the region find it increasingly difficult to secure labor for the entirety of the harvest. Santa Isabel, however, has a stable and reliable work force, despite their reputation for being very demanding with regards to selective picking. In addition to paying fairly, a picker at Santa Isabel can harvest up to 160 pounds of cherry a day, which means many of the same workers come back year after year.

Coffee Review

90 pts      Aroma: 8    Body: 8    Flavor:   Acidity/Structure: 8    Aftertaste: 8

Blind Assessment: Crisply sweet, cocoa-toned. Cocoa powder, date, hazelnut, freesia, cedar in aroma and cup. Sweet in structure with gentle, round acidity; crisp, satiny mouthfeel. Quiet finish with notes of cocoa powder, date and cedar.

The Bottom Line: A straightforward, deeply sweet, cocoa-laden Guatemala cup.

Review by Kenneth Davids, Coffee Review, November 2019. Review at Coffee Review.

Finca Santa Isabel Guatemala

Aroma and Flavor notes: 
Peach. Apple. Caramel. Cocoa.
Body: 
Round
Acidity: 
Crisp
Region: 
San Cristobal Verapaz. Coban. Guatemala.
Producers: 
Luis Valdes
Varietal(s): 
Caturra. Catuai.
Growing elevation: 
1400-1600 Meters
Processing: 
Fully washed. Dried on raised tables inside solar dryers.

$16.90
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Weight: 12 oz