Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Guatemala and Finca Vista Hermosa Trip 2008 pt 1

Our first visit to our first Direct Trade farm, Finca Vista Hermosa, proved to be even more exciting than anticipated. I returned home last week, but it’s taken a while to let the many thoughts from this trip settle and sort through the more than 800 pictures I took on the trip along with an over-written notebook.

Before I begin my account of the trip I wish say thank you to Edwin Martinez for inviting us and organizing a fantastic trip, to his dad (also Edwin) for being such a gracious host and entertaining us with many stories and ’giggles’ and to everyone at Finca Vista Hermosa for the great food, stories, pictures and of course coffee.

Joining me on the trip was Mads Høgsted, who works for Copenhagen Roaster. The trip to Guatemala included layovers in both Paris and Atlanta. The latter lasted for 15 hours, but fortunately we could spend the time with the ever-so-nice M’lissa Muckerman and Chris Owens. They showed us Octane Coffee Shop, which was way cool and Counter Culture Coffee’s training lab. Impressive spaces both of them, and way bigger than our own roastery and coffee shop. In the morning we had a great cup of both Biloya and Idido, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia that still left a lingering aftertaste as the plane took off for Guatemala.

We were greeted in the airport by Edwin Martinez – towering above most of the other people crowding outside the new beautiful terminal. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Edwin twice before, in Portland, Oregon and Tokyo, Japan, and it was great to see him again. We went straight to Anacafé where we met with the reigning Guatemalan barista champion Raúl Rodas, as well as past champ Jonni Gonzales and their Anacafé coaches. We had a little jam with them, tasting shots, giving feedback on roasting and blending and watching latte art pours.

At Anacafé most of the FVH trip group assembled. Ryan Brown from Ritual, who visited us in Copenhagen about half a year ago, was there. Ben and Jamie from Barismo too. Then Victrola and Coffee Ambassadors along with Aaron Brown from Onyx Coffees. Aaron also visited us, well, Peter, while the rest of us were away for the Nordic Barista Cup last year.

Anacafé director William Hempstead gave a presentation about Guatemalan coffees and the work of Anacafé. An innovative new project involving detalied Google earth pictures impressed us all.
Next we got a tour of Anacafé including Analab – the laboratory that helps Guatemalan farmers with everything related to growing coffee. Soil analysis, pest control, fertilizing, experimentations with bio-diversity and coffee varieties are part of the work they do there. Unfortunately for us the cupping lab was booked for a training sessions for the best cuppers from Latin America, so we didn’t get to cup there.

In the afternoon we left Guatemala City for the 7 hour drive to Huehuetenango, where we spend the night. Next morning, after a quick tour of the local market, we once again loaded the cars and drove the last 2½ hours to Finca Vista Hermosa.

This was part 1 of 3

More pictures are found on Flickr!

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