Great things are often discovered in the most serendipitous ways. In 2013, during a trip to visit Paty Perez in Huehuetenango, I was driving back to the city and was forced to divert off the main road due to a road closure. The detour took me along the high road through a small region called Ixban (pronounced “eesh-bahn”) on the way to San Pedro Necta. During this trip, I took various GPS coordinates and altitude measurements. I noticed a good deal of coffee farms at elevations between 1700 and 2000m, with most farms having a healthy amount of old growth bourbon.
Upon my arrival back in Antigua, I showed the GPS coordinates to my friend, Luis Pedro Zelaya, who at the time bought a small amount of coffee from select producers in Huehuetenango. Luis Pedro and I agreed that the potential must be very high in this area, and with Luis Pedro’s help we were able to source the coffee from San Jacinto the following harvest.
San Jacinto is the name that a small group of producers from Ixban have given their coffees. Until 2014, these producers sold their coffee to various intermediaries in the Huehuetenango region, mostly resellers in the town of Huehuetenango. Luis Pedro now manages their coffee, with the help of Byron Benevante, who manages the small group of Huehuetenango producers for Luis Pedro. Byron and I spent some time together the past four years in Huehuetenango visiting Ixban, and discussed at length some of the limitations in Huehuetenango. Up until 2016, every producer in Huehuetenango, with the exception of Patricia Perez, was drying coffee using concrete patios and storing it in tiny warehouses that are exposed to the elements. This drying and storage method resulted in coffees from this area aging very quickly, and in many cases, they lose nearly all their attributes within a few months post harvest. The San Jacinto coffee was no exception.
In 2016, although their drying infrastructure didn’t really change, I worked with the producers to improve the end point of the drying, which is key to achieving good results. We’ve also implemented Grain Pro bags for the storage of coffee after it’s dried. For the past three harvests, I am happy to share that I have seen tremendous improvements in the overall quality and consistency.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.