Itzamná Guatemala La Soledad Edition
- January 2019
- Written by : Sam Sabori
National Coffee Roasting Manager / Green Coffee Buyer
VISITING LA SOLEDAD
Drinking fresh-roasted coffee on the farm on which it was grown on is charming, and something I look forward to every year when I visit the Perez family’s on-site cupping lab at Finca La Soledad in Guatemala’s Acatenango Valley.
The scenario: we have just returned from a farm walk, during which we have observed the health of the coffee trees, the quality of the picking, and enjoyed tasting plenty of ripe coffee cherries from the plants. Now, after sitting on the patio that overlooks the ever-active Volcán de Fuego, we prepare ourselves to evaluate the fresh-roasted day lots from the harvest going on all around us. We hear the coffee being ground in the lab just a few feet behind us, and we are beckoned by the sweet, dewy aroma of coffees that just a few weeks ago were still ripening on the trees that surround us.
Also, we are not alone. Every year I notice how many bees are floating around in the lab, searching for the source of that powerfully sweet aroma. The bees are not a nuisance, but rather part of the charm. The whole situation — sitting on this distant farm, in the shadow of a rumbling volcano just a few miles away, a floral sweetness wafting in the air — makes me question my own judgment. I have to check myself because everything tastes amazing. With nothing scoring below 86 points, I am not entirely sure I am judging these coffees accurately, so I take samples of the same coffees back to Chicago with me. Fast-forward to my return to the United States, when I am able to re-evaluate the pre-selections from Guatemala with our team in the Intelligentsia lab, and we can confirm these coffees still contain that elusive but definitive sense of terroir or somewhereness that quality-focused coffee producers are constantly trying to attain. This is, in a very concise narrative, my experience of buying coffee from La Soledad.
THE LA SOLEDAD APPROACH
With the primary Pérez residence on the farm, coffee production is central to family life. Since 1895, when the sun goes down, it’s time to go to sleep. Before the sun rises, that’s when the work on the farm begins. This passion, dedication, and proactive approach to production has kept La Soledad thriving, producing great coffees year after year.
The family recognizes the harvest is a year-long endeavor that comes to a successful culmination only if each process — pruning, fertilizing, rainfall, soil management, picking — happens at the correct time. The La Soledad approach is equal parts attentiveness, respect for the environment, and a willingness to try anything in hopes of a sweeter, more articulate cup.
The effort does not go unnoticed. One thing we see while roasting La Soledad’s coffee is how dense and even the coffee is. This allows us to place more heat on the coffee and take and a more definitive approach to roasting it. For you, the person drinking the coffee, this translates into a cup that has a luscious mouthfeel, honeyed sweetness, and an abundance of malic fruit acid notes.
Enjoy the product of more than 120 years of the Pérez family’s work to steadily hone the craft of producing extraordinary coffee.