Cocoa, graham cracker, and mild tropical fruit notes on the nose introduce a cup that is characterized by pleasing sweetness, a gently citric acidity, and a soft chocolatey mouthfeel. We find delicate flavors of almond, pear, and kiwi as the coffee cools.
Passenger’s latest Reserve Lot offering from Huehuetenango, Guatemala comes to us from three smallholder farmers and is remarkably sweet and complex in the cup, a characteristic likely due to the producers unintentionally pushing fermentation to its limits, while still remaining distinctly clean in the cup.
Huehuetenango is arguably the most famous Guatemalan coffee producing region amongst specialty coffee roasters and consumers. The coffees produced in Huehuetenango can be expressive, dynamic, and complex. Each year when our green buying team is cupping through Guatemalan samples, we are presented with coffees from this famed region. Over the past number of years two coffees have stood out over and over: San Jacinto and Las Palomas. The past couple of harvests we have purchased one of these, or both. From the 2020 harvest we purchased San Jacinto.
For some time we were nervous about purchasing these coffees. Part of what held us back was their processing. For every five samples we would taste of these particular coffees, only one would be truly clean. The other four would push the line of flavors derived from fermentation too far. That is, however, exactly what makes the clean lots so interesting: they push close to that line, but stay squarely on the clean side, not entering into the over-fermented, acetic (think apple cider vinegar) realm. The result is an incredibly complex, unique, and fruited coffee.
San Jacinto is comprised of coffee from three producers located in San Pedro Necta, Huehuetenango. This lot is made up of 70% Bourbon and 30% of a mix of Caturra and Pache (Pache is a natural Typica mutation). The coffee is handpicked and sorted by family members before being de-pulped, fermented, washed, and patio dried at each of the small holders’ own facilities. The coffees are then taken to Bella Vista dry mill in Antigua, where they are blended together and milled for export. Bella Vista first sourced these coffees with the help of Byron Benavente (a long-time Bella Vista colleague), who helps Luis Pedro and his team at Bella Vista purchase coffees from this area of Huehuetenango. Through Byron, the trio of families have also received assistance in improving their agricultural management and processing at their wet mill using Bella Vista-inspired methods