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Bury St Edmunds based Butterworth & Son's owner Rob Butterworth finally able to return to Guatemala to visit coffee community

The owner of a Suffolk coffee company has finally been able to return to a Central American country to visit those growing the beans used in his products.

This month, Bury St Edmunds based Butterworth & Son owner Rob Butterworth finally managed to make it out to Guatemala to the coffee community and farmers.

An important part of successfully running a business in the coffee industry is seeing directly where the beans are coming from and getting to know the people that nurture and care for the plants.

Rob Butterworth finally got to meet up again with coffee farmer Francisco Morales Carillo
Rob Butterworth finally got to meet up again with coffee farmer Francisco Morales Carillo

Due to Covid he hadn’t been since 2020, equally many in the community hadn’t had visitors since before the pandemic.

Rob first visited Guatemala in 2015 and fell in love with the country. The Latin vibe and Mayan heritage is very different from Europe and the city of Antigua is just buzzing with cool shops, restaurants and nightlife.

During his journey, he flew from Antigua to Huehuetenango in a small plane – this remote region grows some of Guatemala’s best coffee.

Butterworth & Son's coffee
Butterworth & Son's coffee

He had an amazing view during the flight, but “prefers when the plane has at least two engines!”

Although it’s only a 30-minute flight, going by road is prone to localised protests and roadblocks, which means it can take up to eight hours to drive.

The journeys that were done on the ground required a trusty 4x4, which usually means having to share locations over WhatsApp as many farms don’t have proper signs or roads.

He made a stop to see Francisco Morales Carillo. Francisco started his coffee career at 14, with no land or money, he worked hard as a coffee picker and saved, buying the bits of land he could afford and using his gained knowledge to eventually grow some of the best coffee on the mountain – his farm sits at 1,600 metres above sea level.

Butterworth & Son
Butterworth & Son

At 73 years old he is still loving his work, but gets to enjoy the amazing view of the hills covered in growing coffee from his home.

Rob first met Francisco in 2020 and finally got to revisit him on his latest trip, being the first visitor Francisco had seen in years. It was a happy moment for all.

You will find Francisco’s coffee in their Tikal Gold and as a component of the GUAT’S UP! Blend.

The next farmer Rob visited was Suly Hernandez. He first met Suly and the ladies from the COIBA Co-op in February of 2020.

Guatemalan coffee grower Suly Hernandez
Guatemalan coffee grower Suly Hernandez

The co-op is made up of 24 women growers who all manage homes, children and their farms. This small community is run by women because most of the men have left for America to earn money for their families.

Although the coffee industry has come a long way, if you look at the spectrum of wages – coffee cherry pickers will earn $10 USD a day, compared to $10 an hour in the US.

Rob tasted the first round of picking from Suly and was delighted that the quality exceeds the previous two seasons he had purchased, it pays to persevere! Keep an eye out for the offerings in the next few months as they make their way to the UK.

Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths are based on Moreton Hall, Bury St Edmunds

Owner Rob Butterworth’s job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees

Visit www.butterworthandson.co.uk