barismo coffee

Xalum

Heath bar, molasses-raisin syrup, mild anise, mellow

Producer Christian Starry
Region Amatitlán, Guatemala
Elevation 1400 - 1500 meters
Process Fully Washed & Patio Dried
Variety Red & Yellow Bourbon, Typica
Harvest December 2015 - March 2016
Storage GrainPro™
Relationship Fourth Year Direct Trade

We've been buying coffee from El Xalum for four years, and are more excited than ever to be working with Christian Starry & his family. Christian has been running the farm for four years after having it passed down from his father, the farm itself has been around for 120 years in various forms -- they originally grew a type of cactus that the farm is named after, which was used to produce ink. When synthetic inks were invented in the 20th century, the Starry family made the transition to growing coffee.

When we first started buying, the farm was in rough shape, having felt the impacts of coffee leaf rust (a fungus that has decimated coffee yields across Latin America), a hurricane, volcanic eruption, and decreased pollinator populations. That first year only 10 bags of coffee were produced on a farm that has the potential to yield hundreds. In the 2014-2015 harvest, they broke the 50 bag mark.

We believe in the farm’s long term success because of Christian’s drive for improving quality. On our first visit as we walked the farm, we struck up a conversation about yellow bourbon being better than the traditional red bourbon. Christian got excited, pulling out his phone and showing us a picture of a Brix meter reading. He explained how he had taken the meter and walked throughout the farm sampling cherry, looking for the sweetest fruit until they found this particular tree.  It measured a 22 on the Brix when others had been 16 - 18. They decided to pick all the fruit on this tree to create a nursery for the new plot. This kind of planning, ingenuity & long-term vision is uncommon.

Christian's team is already working on some exciting ventures for next year's harvest, including the construction of a new wet mill on the farm and the transplant of year-old coffee plants from the varietal nursery to the farm. We're excited to see what the future holds for El Xalum; more good years await!