Butterworth & Son’s Rob Butterworth recently visited his ‘second home’ in search of more great coffees
It has been two years since I have visited Guatemala and it felt like returning to my second home.
I’ve drunk coffee from all far flung corners of the globe – China, Bali, Australia, Kenya, Yemen to name but a few of the more well known and unusual – Guatemala was one of the first coffees I tried that really got me drinking quality and thinking about what I was drinking.
I 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. Latin America may have a reputation for being a little bit insecure, but Guatemala is welcoming and safe for the most part.
Some of my favourite coffee from Guatemala comes from a region on the border with Mexico called Huehuetenango. This year I visited a women growers co-op called Coiba. This small community is run by women as most of the men have left for America to earn money for their families. The ladies are doing a fantastic job looking after the land and dealing with many social issues that stem from traditions that we here in Western Europe have grown out of. It’s a tough life in beautiful surroundings and the co-op is producing some amazing coffee that I will feature later in the year when it lands.
Moving further in the countryside I also visited a farmer called Francisco who’s farm sits at 1,600 metres above sea level. He was producing some of the best looking special prep coffees I’ve seen, including the increasing popular ‘Honey’ process.
Aside from coffee. this region also grows much fruit, including a finger-sized banana that tastes like an apple and a citrus fruit called a mandariño. This fruit is the size and colour of a lime but if you cut it open looks like an orange, taste it and it’s like a cross between an orange and a lemon. Fantastic. Why no one’s importing these, I don’t know.
After visiting this region over several days and discovering some of the best coffees from Guatemala I’ve ever purchased I headed back to the city to taste some from other regions I would not have time to visit in the coffee labs of La Central.
The coffees should start arriving late April and I can’t wait to roast them and to showcase some of the best Guatemala has to offer.
Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall, and Guat’s Up! café in Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds
His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees