SINGLE ORIGIN: Guatemala, Union Cantinil

TASTE NOTES English breakfast, black currant, citrus
1300 - 2000 masl
Bourbon, Caturai, Typica


Asociacion de Apicultores y Caficultores de Union Cantinil (AAPICUC) was founded in 2011 to help producers cultivate organic coffee in an environmentally-sustainable way. Members cultivate coffee on small farms, about 3 hectares on average at high altitudes between 1,300 and 2,000 meters above sea level.

AAPICUC members are both coffee producers and beekeepers. In fact, beekeeping works in tandem with coffee production. Coffee trees are self-pollinating, meaning they do not need bees or birds to help them pollinate but, bees can help increase total production by as much as 20 to 25%. 

Farmers selectively hand pick cherry and typically pulp it on their farms, usually using small hand-powered or electric drum pulpers. After fermenting, parchment is agitated to remove remaining mucilage and washed with clean water. All water used during pulping and washing will be filtered – usually through earthen holes – so that the organic solids do not contaminate local waterways.

Farmers typically lay parchment to dry on raised beds that are stacked on top of each other to maximize space. Patios are also frequently used.

Huehuetenango is well-known for its high altitude and consistent weather patterns. The region lies at a nexus of hot air sweeping eastwards from the Plains of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico and cool air rushing down from the Cuchumantanes Mountains. The meeting of this hot and cold air creates a microclimate that keeps frost in check and enables coffee cultivation at higher altitudes: coffee production at 2,000 meters above sea level is common. These conditions are perfect for producing the sparkling acidity and distinctive fruit flavors of the region.

Guatemala boasts a variety of growing regions and conditions that produce spectacular coffees. Today, the country is revered as a producer of some of the most flavorful and nuanced cups worldwide. We are proud to work with several exceptional in-country partners to bring these coffees to market.

The Guatemalan coffee industry experienced a major setback with the 2010 appearance of Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) in Latin America. The epidemic peaked in severity in 2012, and though CLR continues to affect some farms, Guatemala continues to produce high-quality, record-breaking coffees. In 2017, new and varied processing methods pushed prices at the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence contest to record highs.

The quality of coffee being produced in Guatemala is increasing, overall, due to the diversity of the industry’s producers. There are more and more small holder farmers producing exceptional coffee at high altitudes. Cooperatives are becoming more appealing to so many smallholders because they often offer farmers financing and other support for improving their farming and processing and are frequently able to offer higher prices for cherry than middlemen. Many cooperatives have initiated quality improvement training for farmer members and are becoming more adept at helping members market their coffee as specialty.