- June 2017
- Written by : Sam Sabori
National Coffee Roasting Manager / Green Coffee Buyer
Itzamna is the creator-deity from Maya mythology whose name can be rendered “god of nectar” and was the harbinger of culture, cacao, and maize to the Mayans in ancient lore. Together with our partners in Guatemala, we chose to name our Direct Trade program after Itzamna because we like what he stands for. Itzamna is beloved deity, credited with creating many of the things that make life worth living. He introduced farming and science, and was always known to be kind and protective towards humans. In other words, he is the man. We like to think that he would have loved coffee if he didn’t predate its arrival in the Americas by centuries.
Coffees included as part of our Itzamna Project represent some of the most complex and unique that Guatemala has to offer. The Itzamna Project was created as a way to showcase consistent quality and continued refinement from passionate coffee farmers in Guatemala.
Finca La Maravilla
Finca La Maravilla (the wonder) was founded in 1997 when Mauricio Rosales and his father Guillermo purchased a small piece of land that was only accessible by foot or horseback. The duo had a goal to produce high quality, progressive coffee for the growing specialty market. Together, this father-and-son duo carved out roads, constructed drying patios, and built their own wet mill. These efforts dramatically improved the farm, and helped showcase the punchy acidity their Huehuetenango farm was able to produce. We saw the beginnings of something truly progressive, something that was possessed in the land and in the hearts of Mauricio and his father, and five years later, in 2003, Intelligentsia and Finca La Maravilla began working together.
Though Mauricio lost his father in 2005, he marched on with a dream in his heart, and over the years La Maravilla has been internationally recognized as one of the best farms in Guatemala, becoming a regular fixture in the annual Cup of Excellence competitions, producing winning lots in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Whatever needs to be done to improve the coffee from La Maravilla, Mauricio is ready, willing and more than able. Recent upgrades to the farm’s raised beds, greenhouses and soaking tanks are testament to that. And now Mauricio has help. A few years ago, his son Luis followed him into the family business: he is studying agronomy and working on the farm with his dad, making it a father-and-son venture once again.
This year, Mauricio and Luis have committed to refining their drying practices. This means being more meticulous with how beds are constructed, moved, and stored. This commitment has two objectives: softer, more controlled drying and parchment preservation. The softer, extended drying will keep quality degradation at a minimum and the parchment preservation will help keep the coffee drying evenly. This will prevent exposure to outside contaminants while also cocooning the bean from solar rays that can damage the actual bean should the heat get too intense during these 8-15 days.
These efforts combined with the already stellar growing conditions on Mauricio’s farm act as they have in the past, to improve the overall farm average. This year’s drying refinements compound on all the years before, they continue to elevate the strong but soft fruit acids and abundant sweetness we love from this farm.
This marks the fourteenth year we have purchased coffee from La Maravilla, making it one of our oldest Direct Trade relationships. Though we continue to search out new and exciting coffees throughout the land of Guatemala, La Maravilla sets the standard of excellence for Itzamna project and our DT network.
This La Maravilla lot is the first of several we will release under our Itzamna Guatemala mark this year, and delivers sweet flavors of kiwi, pomegranate and molasses.
“ We release Finca La Maravilla under the Itzamna banner as a shining example of what Direct-Trade can accomplish, both for a coffee roasting company and for producer. ”