We recently visited a number of plantations in Guatemala because we believe that actually going to the places where coffee crops are grown is the best way to understand the world inside every cup of coffee we hold in our hand.
We’ve always understood that the raw material we use for our coffee is not just a commodity but is part of nature and a way of life. It must be grown and harvested with respect for nature and the people who are part of the local community.
From harvesting carried out by expert pickers to selecting the beans to toasting them, for us every step represents tradition and an enduring love for working with coffee.
A love that becomes even more profound when we visit the places where our coffee’s story begins and see the hands that pick it and painstakingly choose the very best beans.
During our trip we visited a number of plantations, we witnessed how the beans are selected and sorted and we were lucky enough to taste a host of traditional recipes featuring coffee.
We travelled there and met with local men and women who spoke to us about their traditions, activities and dreams. They shared anecdotes and stories about a place where coffee is the engine of the economy.
This latest journey has confirmed something we were already convinced of and that is that women are the power behind coffee. In 2018 we launched our Women in Coffee project to help support women involved in coffee cultivation and in Guatemala we saw at first hand the key role females play in the world of coffee.
We spoke to these strong, capable women who are pragmatic but also not afraid to dream. They talked about their work in the fields, leading a cooperative, running a restaurant. We spoke to journalists committed to increasing awareness of Guatemala’s culture throughout the world.
And so, we discovered Guatemala through their eyes.
Coffee represents one of Guatemala’s main growth and development engines and in the video below, we hear about this from Lucia Barrios, a journalist specializing in gastronomy and coffee culture. She is also the chairwoman of the 50 Best Restaurants award for Latin America.
One of Guatemalan most important coffee areas lies along the Mexican border on the highlands where we find the city of Huehuetenango located at just under 2000 metres above sea level. These incredible mountains are home to a series of small holdings where coffee is grown and produced using artisanal methods.
Of course, coffee is drunk in any every Guatemalan home, but not in the way we are used to. Called Cafè de Olla, it is full of sugar, cinnamon and other spices which are slowly brewed in a terracotta pot and must be filtered before being drunk.
Pietro Vergnano, Head of Purchasing and Raw Material Production visited a number of plantations in different regions to see for himself how the Guatemalan culture differs from that of other countries, such as Brazil.
Guatemalan women are actively involved in the entire coffee value chain: they run small businesses related to coffee production and have relevant roles in every step of the coffee process.
In this episode, we joined brilliant and tenacious women committed to raising the quality of Guatemalan coffee to excellence and improving the working conditions of every other woman within the coffee sector.
For more than 15 years, the Women’s Coffee Alliance has operated in Guatemala. Its Vicepresident, Ana Isabel Giron, told us about the many small producers in Guatemala, providing 97% of total coffee production. In this scenario, Mujeres del Cafè works relentlessly to support female coffee producers and run empowerment programs to educate and train them.
In many cases, these are women having inherited passion and know-how from their families. Their commitment to this long tradition and the love nurtured for coffee as a raw material brought them to take their rightful place in the coffee industry today in many different positions.
It is the case of Maria Fernanda Castillo, cupper at Fedecocagua – one of the biggest producers’ federations, who assess features and profiles of coffee samples.
Guatemalan cuisine is an explosion of taste and colors, where two traditions are entwined; the first one is the ancient Precolombian tradition, then complemented by the one that arrived with the Spanish.
But in Guatemala, the contemporary food and beverage scenario is also booming, with its remarkable dynamism and its deep-rooted origins and traditions.
During our discovery, we met many women, true caretakers of food traditions before, and relevant protagonists of today’s cutting-edge modern cuisine.
Women chefs and barladies pioneer in showcasing Guatemala with their contemporary culinary proposal.
Guatemala has it all: excellent raw materials, and two deep-rooted culinary traditions one complementing the other in their contemporary avant-garde interpretation. Furthermore, there are its superior rum and one of the finest coffee origins, becoming the best Italian espresso.