The Acatenango volcano is the third tallest in Central America, allowing coffee farms to reach very high elevations. Max’s farm reaches as high as 2000m in elevation, so he benefits from a long growing season resulting in a coffee that offers far more than the standard Antigua or Acatenango coffee. It’s finer, more delicate.
Interesting fact. Even though it is dormant, Acatenango volcano is located next to Fuego volcano, which is active and erupting daily. The ashes from Fuego provide rich minerals to the soil of the coffee growing region of Acatenango. Also, because of its closeness to the Pacific Ocean, the region has a privileged warm climate that prevent frosts.
I actually first met Max Perez in 2012 and we bought his coffee for a couple of years. At the time, I felt Max’s coffee had great potential, but I wasn’t sure if Max and I were on the same page on creating a long term mutually beneficial sustainable relationship, so we stopped buying from Max.
This past year, I met with Max again and felt that we are now more aligned on our values and goals. We purchased a larger lot of washed Bourbon from Max and this tiny lot of Geisha.
We were able to re-kindle this relationship thanks to the work done by Adrian Cabrera and his family of San Miguel coffee.
I have felt since I started traveling to Central America that producers need to diversify their coffee varieties. Max is a great example of someone who has benefited greatly from variety diversity. In 2014, Max planted Geisha, Pacamara and Maracaturra and they are all in production now. Over 90% of his production is still Bourbon and Pache, but it’s the varieties that have helped Max establish himself as a top producer in Guatemala. Since 2016, he has experienced great success at the Cup of Excellence, placing as high as 2nd place in 2020 and now being a fixture in the top 10 of the competition for the past several years.
This lot is a Geisha is a bronze tip variety that is grown around 1900m. It was harvested in March, and that is important because March is the driest month in Acatenango, perfect for natural processed coffees. The drying took almost 4 weeks in raised beds. This coffee blew my mind when I was in Guatemala – it’s full of cantaloupe, black tea, black sugar syrup and has a blueberry creamy acidity. It’s clearly a sweet natural with tons of fruit, but still clean and preserving the origin quality of the variety.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.