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Tasting notes: apple juice, brown sugar, milk chocolate, pineapple.
Eduardo Cabrera, the fourth generation steward of his family’s property + lifelong coffee grower, could not be more exuberant about his sense of place. In his own words, “coffee is family, tradition, memories, happiness + a little suffering; but I wouldn’t trade anything for the adrenaline during the beginning of harvest, my olfaction that never tires of the smell of the coffee flower + the landscape of the lake, the volcanoes + the coffee trees!” Little more need be said. This is one grateful coffee producer.
Finca San José del Lago is on the southern shore of Guatemala’s breathtaking lake Atitlán, long considered a place of ancient importance + still home to some of Guatemala’s most visible indigenous communities. Atitlán’s surface sits at almost 1600 meters + is a volcanic basin surrounded by dramatically steep escarpments, and, as Eduardo describes, numerous volcanoes. As one might imagine, the terroir here is exquisite for coffee + a lot of coffee is grown in various communities around the lake, many of whom still successfully grow typica + bourbon, the first varieties planted in the area.
However, it is rare to find coffee from single large estates such as San José del Lago. Most of the coffee from Atitlán is smallholder grown + either cooperatively represented or bought by independent processors at competitive local rates. Eduardo’s great-grandfather first purchased the family land in 1909. He approached the land as a broker, whose business was buying + selling properties, but he became so enamored with the landscape that he could not bring himself to sell it. The original 200 hectares remained completely forested for decades. Coffee was first planted in the 1940’s by Eduardo’s grandfather, + although more recent cultivars have been added to the mix, the bourbon + typica plants that first went into the ground are still providing seed stock for the now 45 hectares of coffee that Eduardo oversees. When his grandfather passed away, the farm became his father’s + uncle’s to manage, + they set about improving the infrastructure + adding crops to the land’s rotation such as bananas, avocados, corn, beans, tomatoes, chayote, cabbage + heirloom squash.
Finally in 2016 the decision was made to divide the farm into equal portions, one of which Eduardo + his immediate family named San José del Lago. Processing on the farm takes place in the family’s historic wet mill. With the exception of the nails + a bit of concrete, the entire operation was built from timber + stone native to the family land. The only mechanical portion of processing remains depulping. Cherry comes in from the farm, is depulped, sorted by density + fermented in handmade tanks. After fermentation, it is cleaned + then dried on a combination of raised screen beds + tarps. Selective picking for ripe cherry means the farm crew of 100 is usually harvesting the early-ripening typica trees first during the year, then the bourbons, leading to a natural separation by variety.
Eduardo loves the artisanal traditions of hand processing + is proud that their only piece of equipment remains their depulper; however he + his team are constantly working to evaluate their methods + improve + diversify to help the farm offer a greater variety of coffees to the world. San José del Lago shares farm profits with employees + invests in their education, as well as donates portions of its land for community development projects which so far has included a medical clinic, a school + a water tank for the town of Santiago Atitlán.
**Packaging may differ slightly from photo.
12 oz bag
Location: Santiago Atitlán
Elevation: 1500-2100 masl
Middle State Coffee
Roasted in small batches; Denver, CO
Sharing great coffee is our favorite thing to do, + we’ve gotten pretty good at finding great coffee.
Our method is simple: Taste a ton of coffee. Pick our favorite ones. High five the growers + producers because their efforts are shining through every cup, + their hard work is incredible. Do our best to preserve the taste (+ the feeling) that we got from that first taste + share it with you. Oh + then high five you because you’re awesome for trusting us to bring it to you with all of the flavor, integrity + the intent that it began with.
We like coffee. We especially like interesting coffee. We like complexity, cleanliness, acidity + the kind of sweetness that leaves you in the candy aisle trying to nail tasting notes. We like small lots from small farms. We like coffees that are an expression of where they came from + an expression of their grower’s hard work.
We value people. We believe that all humans + their awesome eccentricities are the reason things like specialty coffee exist in the first place. Without any of the awesome people in this crazy world of coffee, it just simply would not be as fun + as exciting as it is. So we applaud all of you for being who you are + doing what you do.
This is our method. Have fun, brew coffee.
-Middle State Crew