Above: Nursery at Santa Ana; talking with Fernando Diaz (right), who runs Santa Ana; patio and raised bed drying; looking down on the wet mill from higher up on the farm; Humberto Peña, esteemed cupper and director of SUBE, the dry mill where this lot was prepared.
Santa Ana Lot 724
milky way candy, blackberry, coating round body
|Region||Pueblo Nuevo Viñas, Guatemala|
|Elevation||1600 - 1800 meters|
|Process||Fully Washed & Dried on Raised Beds|
|Harvest||December 2015 - March 2016|
|Relationship||Third Year Direct Trade|
Santa Ana lies in the southern portion of Guatemala, not more than an hour or so from Guatemala City with no traffic. On the drive up, we passed a soccer field named 'Estadio Flor del Cafe' or the coffee flower stadium, so we knew we were entering a serious coffee production area. The area is beautiful, and being outside the coffee buyer favorite areas of Huehuetenango or Antigua, it feels much more isolated and less traveled by other coffee buyers.
Fernando Diaz, owner & manager, is a calm and charming person who cares deeply about returning his farm to the days when it had high placement in the Cup of Excellence, and long term going a bit farther. He takes this in stride with his other important goals, to enjoy the land and what it offers by sharing his experiences with his family. Many of the discussions we had centered not around ambition but desire to have and provide a good quality of life for his family and the families living on the farm.
Fernando takes a pretty relaxed approach for someone who is massively overhauling his farm. He has filled a large nursery with coffees acquired from his friend (and ours) Luis Pedro Zelaya of Bella Vista Mill. What you'd expect from Fernando with all this investment and attention to detail is a driving ambition. What you've got is an analytical engineer looking at the next 10 years for these farms. As cool and intriguing as his projects are, the farm has many obstacles to overcome in the next five years. As most of the farm is planted with varying canopies of evergreens and native trees, the entire mountain feels like a bit of a mashup of varied growing scenarios. Depending on which piece of land you are on, you have different sun patterns, different soil, and often different plantings covered by varying shade types.
This year we purchased several different lots from Fernando; Lot 724 was very special, and Fernando was considering submitting it to Cup of Excellence. We were able to arrange to purchase it, and still have it dry milled at SUBE, the famous dry mill that has handled the vast majority of Guatemala's very best lots over the past decade. Booking milling time at SUBE is difficult, and only the very best lots we purchase move through there. SUBE's work is so meticulous that the coffees often improve by one or two points from how selective they are when sorting coffees for cleanliness and consistency.