Over the past several years, Huckleberry has been working to build a stronger relationship with the AProCafé El Grano growers association in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala. These growers produce our Atitlán El Grano coffee, which we love dearly, but we're also excited to single out the best individual coffees. This is our third year roasting Pedro Trejo's coffee, and his coffee is our third and final washed microlot from AProCafé.
Like all of the farmers in AProCafé, Don Pedro has great terrain and altitude for coffee growing, plants his coffee trees under shade, and farms using organic, sustainable practices. Our other microlot growers live a bit further from the Lake Atitlán than Pedro, and process their coffee on-farm largely because those farms are a royal pain to get to. Pedro, however, lives and grows coffee in the town of San Pedro, and delivers his cherry to Valle de Eskol, the same wet mill where AProCafé processes its mixed farmer lots.
Pedro doesn't own one, large farm, but several small, scattered parcels along the slopes of Volcan San Pedro, ranging from a high 1650 meters above sea level to a very, very high 2000 meters. We've spent some time with Pedro and visited his plots a few times over the years, and it's fairly obvious why his coffee has so much potential. First off, high altitude always helps, and when walking through other growers' plots to Pedro's the contrast in farming practices was obvious. Pedro's plot was a lesson in precision - great shade cover, large compost holes next to each tree, and perfectly pruned and spaced coffee plants.
We’re pretty stoked on microlot year three from Pedro Trejo. We think it's both bright and balanced, with notes of green apple, candied citrus and marzipan cookie.
$ 18.50 $ 20.00
Wolichu Wachu is our second coffee from the Uraga area of Ethiopia's sky-high Guji Zone, and was one of our favorite washing stations from our visit to Ethiopia this past winter. Wolichu is our coffee of the month for November!
This area of Guji is a relatively new player in the specialty coffee scene. The area has amazing growing conditions, and has had the potential for great coffee for a while now, but is exceedingly remote and difficult to reach. Coffee buyers weren't visiting, there was a lack of infrastructure and investment due to lack of name recognition. So, a good amount of coffee from Guji was moved over to Yirgacheffe and sold under the name of Ethiopia's most famous coffee region.
Luckily, thanks in part to some changes in Ethiopia's regulatory structure and the way coffees are sold, washing stations from Guji are now seeking a name for themselves and the coffees have been among our favorites for the past few years.
Wolichu Wachu is a beautiful station, and was among our favorite places we visited in Ethiopia. The coffee is beautiful, too - complex and delicate. We're tasting melon, nectarine, and earl grey tea with a bit more bergamot than usual in our third washed Ethiopia of 2019.
Hambella picks up the fruit where Chelbesa Natural left off. Our second Ethiopian natural of the 2019 harvest is fruit-forward, creamy, and delicious.
Coffee is the seed of a fruit, and most of the coffee we roast and drink is washed - that is, the fruit is removed from the seed before drying. For this lot from Hambella Washing Station and other natural-process coffees, the coffee is dried with the fruit still intact, and the dried cherry is removed during milling. This process imparts a uniquely fruity, jammy quality to the coffee, though improper and uneven drying carries a distinct risk of off, funky flavors and early fading. The best naturals, though, taste like a blend of coffee and fruit punch.
370 smallholders in the woreda (village) of Hambella pick their ripe coffee cherry and deliver it to the Hambella Washing Station, where it is sorted for ripeness, laid out on raised beds, and further sorted over the course of several weeks’ drying time. We tasted dozens of naturals from throughout Ethiopia this year to follow up to Chelbesa, and this lot from the Guji Zonewas a standout for its sweet fruit and creamy body.
Hambella should be an easy choice for all you fruit-forward coffee lovers out there. We’re tasting ripe strawberry, blueberry, mango, and a sweet cream in our mugs.
Guatemala is always on our minds here at Huckleberry, and even though the coffees from the AProCafé El Grano Growers Association might only be on our menu for a few months each year, these coffees represent year-round work and commitment from both Huck and the growers. After months of work and a bit of waiting, we’re always stoked to drop Atitlán el Grano back into the lineup.
Lake Atitlán is a truly stunning body of water, surrounded by mountains on all sides, and three volcanoes on its southern shore. The coffee growers of AProCafé are based on the southwest shore of the lake and the slope of Volcan San Pedro. Their rich volcanic soil, combined with well-managed organic growing practices and careful processing, contribute to a delicious coffee year after year. AProCafé farmers also consider themselves stewards of the environment, growing their coffee with only organic inputs and taking care to properly treat their processing water. Petrochemical fertilizers and improperly treated water from washing stations have contributed to various environmental problems in the area, including increased algae on the lake over the past decade. AProCafé is one of several grower groups around Atitlán working to improve the environment while also producing tasty coffee.
Huckleberry has been roasting coffee from AProCafé el Grano since 2015, and have been working hands-on with these growers since day one. Several years ago we worked with the group to develop their first single farmer microlot program, and have used a portion of proceeds from our holiday Sister Winter blend each year to help the group with a variety of projects. AProCafé has used Sister Winter funds to purchase and apply organic-approved leaf rust prevention treatments, to build raised drying beds to improve coffee processing, and a portion of funds from 2018-19 helped the association build a few more drying beds and purchase a new depulper for some of the group’s more remote farmers.
While we’ve had special single farm microlots each year, this year’s main lot from AProCafé is equally special, and may be our best multi-farmer coffee from the group to date. While AProCafé does produce excellent coffees from all 40+ farmers, this year we worked with the group, and with exporting partner Caravela, to take it a step further. This year we cupped dozens of single farmer coffees to build a lot that we’re blending into Blue Orchid and Sound and Vision, this lot that we’re selling as Atitlán el Grano, and separated 3 small single farmer coffees to showcase as microlots.
This year’s Atitlán el Grano is balanced, deeply sweet, but also packs plenty of complexity - we’re tasting caramel, black cherry, plum, orange, and cocoa, and are looking forward to brewing it up as both a filter coffee and espresso over the next several months. Keep an eye out for the single farm coffees from these growers, but don’t overlook the main lot - it’s tasty as hell.
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