Like Ethiopia, Guatemala is a country that is near and dear to our hearts at ReAnimator. Our annual trips to Guatemala bring us some of the most reliable, solid, and sweet coffees that we taste all year.
And while we have a few differing sources of coffee in Guatemala, the one that is most meaningful to us is our connection with the Mendez family on their farm Finca Aguas Altas in the mountains north of Huehuetenango, where Peñasco is grown.
We first traveled to Huehuetenango three years ago, with the help of Edwin Martinez and his company Onyx Coffee. Edwin is local to Huehue, and his family owns a farm in the mountains, which gives him not only a deep connection to the area, but a familiarity with so many of the other farmers across the valley. Through Onyx, Edwin and his team are helping connect small roasters to these smaller farms, which happen to be producing some of the best coffee in Central America.
The trip into the mountains is long, and much of it is spent in the bed of a pickup truck, climbing higher and higher in elevation up the winding dirt roads. This elevation is key -- the mountains in Huehue where these coffees are grown replicate conditions that are not often seen in Central America, which is where the quality comes from.
Above: Fincas Aguas Altas
Finca Aguas Altas is run by brothers Francisco and Gabino Mendez. Together, and with the help of their family and staff, they produce many microlots of coffee, including Peñasco. Named for the boulder that juts from the mountain directly over the lot, Peñasco is tended to by Francisco, who splits his time at the farm with working as the village's school teacher. Francisco, and his entire family, are warm, funny, and kind people. And they produce some killer coffees.
Above: Francisco Mendez stands on the Peñasco boulder.
When we first tasted Peñasco, we were blown away by the cleanliness of the cup. The mouthfeel and body were reminiscent of a well-brewed tea, balanced with a sugary, lemon candy, and a lingering chocolate cookie finish. It was completely unlike anything we'd tasted. This led to Peñasco being the very first coffee that ReAnimator ever purchased the entire lot of. And each year since then, we've revisited Aguas Altas and the Mendez family to check in on the coffee, and really just spend some time with the Mendez crew. It's certainly one of the highlights of our year.