Victrola in Guatemala, Part 2 of 3: Up at the Finca
Upon arrival to the Finca Vista Hermosa, our little group immediately split into two groups: those who sidled up to a coffee tree to finally taste their first ripe coffee cherry, and those that settled into one of the many enticing swinging hammocks. Since Lindsay and Mike had accomplished the former on previous trips, they went straight to the hammocks... but don't worry, they didn't stay prone for long. There was too much to explore at the Finca; no time for lying around! Our main purpose for this trip to origin was to understand all the workings of this particular coffee farm -- which, by the way, is a Cup of Excellence winning farm, so we know they do an excellent job, ha ha! -- so we set straight to work. Lucky for us, Edwin Martinez is a patient and thoughtful expert on most matters pertaining to coffee, so he humored and educated us with many impromptu and informal lessons. Perhaps what we were most looking forward to was to actually witness the full processing of a washed coffee: from a cherry to the final green coffee product that we receive here at the roastery. All exported coffee in Guatemala, and most of the world's exporting coffee growers, processes their coffee in this manner... but it's very hard to fully understand the bits and pieces without being there. I think most people, myself included, assume that it's a complicated mechanical process including lots of noisy machinery. I couldn't have been more wrong; removing the coffee cherry from the bean merely involves running water, gravity, manpower, and only one motorized part (that rotates the depulper). It is labor intensive, but mechanically much simpler than I thought! A little collage of some different stages for you, above. In reading order: unripe cherries, ripe cherries, overripe cherries, pulped and sorted beans, and drying coffee, still in parchment (before milling). We did so much, but just to give you a sampler, here's the short list of our accomplishments at the Finca: We were allowed to "help" with various chores, like moving the coffee on the drying patios, working the paddles, and even picking some cherries. We hiked the footpaths through the hillside coffee plantings. We hand milled coffee from separate lots, roasted it with Edwin's iRoast, and ground the coffee by hand before brewing it right there at the Finca (it doesn't get more fresh than that!). We stayed up late and talked about our dreams, coffee related and otherwise. We ate like kings and queens; feasting on homemade Guatemalan food at every meal. And we met the amazing people and that run the Finca Vista Hermosa, whose children are perhaps the cutest kids you'll ever see. How lucky were we.