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Region: Aldea Panyebar, Lake Atitian
Notes: Fig newton, tamarind, blood orange, cacao
Description: Over the past 4 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 they love dearly, but Huckleberry also has been working on some other projects with the cooperative so that they can grow together. Over the past few years they helped the growers with their leaf rust prevention efforts and improving drying infrastructure, and this is their third year paying higher prices for exceptional single farm microlots. Don Manuel Tzic Saso has exceeded our expectations and made the cut all three years.
Like all of the farmers in AProCafé, Don Mañuel has great terrain and altitude for coffee growing, plants his coffee trees under shade, and farms using organic, sustainable practices. They had the chance to visit Manuel last year though, and he’s a special character. He’s exceptionally kind and generous, and impressively detail-obsessed, able to point out each species of shade tree on his farm, tell you when he last pruned every parcel of his land, and clearly takes joy in sweating the small details that breed quality. With wild hair, a knack for mildly innappropriate jokes and some quirky nerdiness, he kinda reminds us of a Guatemalan version of Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.
Unlike most other farmers in AProCafé who deliver their coffee cherry to a wetmill in Cerro de Oro, Don Manuel lives in the aldea (more or less a township) of Panyebar, above the town of San Juan la Laguna, and washes and dries his coffee on his farm (as a favor to the association, he also processes our prior microlot from the Sosa family). His farm is one of the highest amongst AProCafé’s growers, almost 1000 feet above the shore of Lake Atitlán. High altitude, slow growing times, and Manuel’s obsession with the small details all help contribute to his coffee’s sweetness and complexity.
Don Manuel’s coffee is both approachable and complex. While it’s easy to taste the relationship between Don Pedro, Doña Lucinda, and Atitlán el Grano, we think Manuel’s coffee stands apart from our main lot of Atitlán in a special way. It has a crowd-pleasing base of chocolate and fig newton but packs unique tamarind and orange flavors that help it stand out. Huckleberry have to admit some personal bias towards Don Manuel, but his coffee is one of our favorites coming out of Guatemala.