Coffee Break Questions - Giorgio, San Jeronimo de Miramar
Our third "Coffee Break Questions" is with another coffee producer: Giorgio of Finca San Jeronimo de Miramar in Atitlan, Guatemala. Giorgio, along with his siblings, represents the fourth generation working the farm. San Jeronimo de Miramar is an exemplary farm driven by this new inspiring generation.
Giorgio's "Slow Dryer". Here Giorgio shows us some experiments he set up with different yeasts, including champagne yeast.
The history of Finca San Jerónimo de Miramar and how it came into Giorgio's family is an incredible story of a hard working Italian farm manager who helped the previous landowners, a German family, avoid losing all their land during the political turmoil of the second World War. Giorgio- along with his siblings represents the fourth generation working the farm. San Jerónimo de Miramar is an exemplary farm driven by this new inspiring generation.
San Jerónimo is located in the volcanic Atitlán coffee region of Guatemala, on the eastern slopes of Volcán Atitlán itself, one of several volcanoes towering over the shores of Lake Atitlán. Nearly half the farm is natural forest and coffee is grown under a diverse shade tree canopy. Tropical fruit trees and other flowering trees provide food and refuge for wildlife and support honey production.
Whilst Marta and Giorgio have shared many coffee breaks, this interview was conducted on the road from Atitlán to Antigua.
On the road to Antigua, Guatemala, February 2016
Marta Dalton: First question! Who would you most like to have a coffee with? At any point in history.
Giorgio: It’s so difficult to choose someone! In all of history? Definitely a deep thinker. Someone who I can ask some questions that I can’t google! [laughs] Definitely not in coffee, because everything interesting in coffee is happening right now. Back then it was just a commodity. Even flavour notes are very recent. Can we come back to this one?
MD: Ok! What is the average price of a cup of coffee in Guate [Guatemala]?
Giorgio: Maybe 25 quetzales [at current exchange rates £2.26 (GBP) or $3.26 (USD)] .
MD: And the most you would pay for a good cup of coffee? I mean, obviously you grow it!
Giorgio leading the way to Parakeet Canyon on his farm
Giorgio: I’ve paid up to 50 quetzales [at current exchange rates £4.53 (GBP) or $6.52 (USD)].
MD: Do you think there is any connection between coffee farmer and coffee drinker?
Giorgio: Definitely. Even if the connection hasn’t been made, whatever the other person grew is in your body and is part of you. So there is definitely some sort of “far-fetched vibe” that connects everybody to the other.
MD: How could a connection be more formally created?
Giorgio: So, as we were talking about [in an earlier conversation], everything goes through the eyes. Lately we are really into showing pictures, showing whatever is currently happening on the farm. Being able to share a sunrise worldwide with people just after it has happened, it’s incredible.
MD: What does direct trade mean to you? If anything.
Giorgio: Direct trade… I would guess is where you know your client on a personal or year-to-year business relationship.
MD: Can coffee make the world a better place?
Giorgio: Definitely! So there is a documentary that says that no other plant in the world has changed so many lives as coffee. Firstly, because there are lots of jobs that depend on coffee. Then there are lots of jobs that are created by coffee and the added value it has. Then there is the whole thing where [in the past] you couldn’t drink anything socially unless it was an alcoholic beverage, before coffee! You could probably have had the chance to solve the problems of the world but the next day you wouldn’t have any idea what happened! [laughs]
So coffee gave intellectuals and thinkers a chance to further deepen their thoughts. They also say that the French Revolution happened in a coffee shop. And that changed the government structure of so many countries all around the world. So yes, definitely, coffee can change the world. Plus, it gave the energy for developing countries to be the powers and motors of development that they are today.
MD: I once saw a documentary on French Cafe Society [in the late 19th century] and in the past French women were themselves limited in their access to bars and so they pushed their husbands and lovers to drink coffee to stop them drinking alcohol! They wanted to keep their partners sober.
Back to the first question! Who would you most like to have a coffee with?
Giorgio: My great-grandfather. There are so many things that have happened since then, that have changed since then, and we have wondered “What happened to this?" I think he would be really proud to see now everything that he started.
Waterfall at Finca San Jerónimo de Miramar