August 19, 2014 by beanerbar
One of the most highly anticipated Central American coffees we offer, Concepción Huista delivers yet again. This year, our fourth year working with the cooperative, we continued to focus on buying smaller lots in addition to volume—trying to capture higher quality from particular areas within the cooperative. Look for softer flavors of creamy caramel and sweet plum.
In 2010, an importer shared with us a coffee from a cooperative of small organic farmers in Huehuetenango. We’ve a long history of working in Huehuetenango with Finca Nueva Armenia, but had never worked with a small-farmer cooperative in the region before. Intrigued, Kim and Jeff planned a side trip after a visit to Nueva Armenia to get a head start on establishing a relationship with CODECH—the cooperative in question. We introduced the coffee as a special selection in 2011, which is unusual for our first year working with a co-op. Since then, we have focused on smaller selections from this group to help guide us to a closer buying relationship and have confidence this coffee will only continue to improve. This year, we will be introducing some of these smaller lots for the first time.
The Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Desarrollo de Concepción Huista (CODECH) was founded in 1995 as a cooperative for coffee and other products and services. It has grown to include more than 800 members and focuses on coffee, with large markets in Europe and the United States for certified organic, Fair Trade Certified coffee. The cooperative is made up of five smaller base cooperatives. Coffee is relatively new to this area, at least to small-scale growers, and the majority of coffee that CODECH’s members produce come from trees planted in the past 20 years.
Explanation of the Name
Concepción Huista is the name of the town where the cooperative has its headquarters.
Huehuetenango is a special place. In Guatemala’s relatively arid, mountainous west, the dramatic mountains and canyons create a perfect environment for great coffee. Huehuetenango means “place of the ancients” in Nahuatl, and, indeed, this was considered a special agricultural area for the ancient Mayans. The coffee is special, too, and Huehuetenango Highland Coffee is the only coffee to be inducted to the Slow Food Ark of Taste, dedicated to recognizing and preserving food traditions worldwide. Concepción Huista itself is a municipality in the department of Huehuetenango, and the co-op’s members manage farms in the mountains surrounding the town.
The cooperative has had a change in leadership in the last two years, and now at the helm is Francisco Javier Jacinto. He was a president of one of the base cooperatives prior to joining the leadership ranks at this level and takes his role as advocate for the coffee farmers quite seriously. At his side is the incredibly detail-oriented Juan Humberto Domingo who helps the cooperative with its financial records and comes from an exporting background—and can thus advise the cooperative at this level. Irma Edilma Cota Recinos was recently hired to hold workshops focused on women and agriculture. Lastly, Gaspar Rafael García Domingo is the head agronomist for the cooperative and has personally at some point in the last couple of years visited all 800+ families. He works tirelessly to convey best agricultural practices and help move producers toward a higher quality product.
Varieties: Caturra, Bourbon
Elevation: 1,000 – 1,900 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Washed, fermented 12-48 hours, and then dried on tarps and raised beds
Harvest Time: November 2013 – February 2014
Certifications: Certified Organic • Counter Culture Direct Trade Certified