If the 2017 crop’s theme was climate change, this year’s harvest (2018) was the year of working with the environment and investing in the future. The 2018 harvest was a celebration of each producers’ passion for coffee and their relentless spirit as evident by their increase in quality.
Across the regions we experienced an increase in quality and cup scores. We observed an increase in cup scores between 0.5-2.0 points.
The producers observed the changing climate experienced in 2017, invested into new techniques, technologies of which there were two main themes: irrigation and soil.
Five years ago in Guatemala there were only a handful of farms with fertigation systems. Fertigation is a system of feeding plants individually water and fertilizer through a hose. This year we saw an increase in irrigation(system of feeding plant water on an individual tree basis) and fertigation in farms.
One producer in Fraijanes decided to run an experiment with a low yielding varietal. He is testing a low yielding varietal with 3 different scenarios- irrigation, fertigation, and no irrigation. All shade has been removed to attempt to observe the direct effect of the irrigation systems. The idea is that if they can optimise conditions for a low yielding varietal, they knowledge will translate for higher yielding varietals. He is hoping to share his findings. We will get an indication next year the results of this experiment.
We also learned so much about soil at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar. Through our farm walk we experienced what it means to nurture the microbes of the soil. The details of what Finca San Jeronimo Miramar is discovering and learning is beyond the scope of this blog post. We embodied the nurtured soil through our walk in the forest and across the farm. The soil is lush, moist, not arid and felt cushioned giving an extra bounce under our feet. We walked into a neighbouring farm that uses herbicides (which destroys soil integrity) and it was arid and dry. The contrast was stark.
Whilst many of the farmer we work with have an eye on the future, many of the coffee growers that are pegged to C market are starting to leave the industry. We hope that together with our greater speciality coffee community we can welcome these farmers to the wonder world of specialty coffee.