Quietly Coffee - Guatemala Shady Lane 340g

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People have been drinking dark roasts for over two-centuries and it seems both short-sighted and careless to ignore history. And yet if you roast too dark, all of the unique flavours of origin are lost and you simply taste the bitter burn and one-dimensional char of the roast process itself.

Shady Lane is a new way of roasting that uses a gentle approach and precise technique to strike a compromise: it engages in our coffee past with an approachable low-acidity  but also showcases the deeply sweet and delicious chocolaty notes possible with particular origins. It is new and old because as the Pavement song concludes, "the worlds collide, but all that we want is a shady lane". 

I first heard about Mataquescuintla from Drew at Bows. It's a town of 30,000 in Southern Guatemala, surrounded by rich agricultural lands, which include a wealth of coffee farms. As LA Times' Kate Linthucum outlines, "Controversy came to her community in 2010 when a Canadian mining company called Tahoe Resources bought El Escobal silver deposit for more than half a billion dollars". The mine is in San Rafael las Flores, just a few short kilometers from Mataquescuintla.

Tahoe worked quickly to acquire a mining license from the government with aims of extracting what is believed to be one of the world's largest caches of silver. I stress speed here because they did little environmental or community outreach despite the huge threat an active mine presents to a community who relies on agriculture for their livelihood. Understandably, protests grew fueled by referendum result that demonstrated that an overwhelming 98% of locals did not support the mine. In 2013, Minera San Rafael (Tahoe’s Guatemalan subsidiary) was granted a 25-year exploitation license

Over the next year, peaceful protests came under attack in several incidents including the mine's private security force shooting and injuring seven people. As Linthucum reports, "Guatemala's then-president, Otto Perez Molina, moved to quell the instability that mine officials complained was disrupting their business" and "citing the threat of terrorism and criminal groups, Perez declared a 'state of siege' in the communities near the mine, deploying thousands of troops and temporarily suspending constitutional rights in the region". Many locals connected to the areas coffee production were arrested.

In the year's since the mine's license was suspended due to the lack of consultation with indigenous groups, including the Xinca people. Tahoe was also purchased by Canadian based Pan American Silver, which meant a change in corporate leadership. However, even with the temporary halt in operations, the impact of the mine and the resulting government oppression have been devastating to the region.

Cafe Colis Resistencia is the name created by Alex Reynoso to identify coffee producing members of the the Indigenous Xinca community around Mataquescuintla. They continue to seek an international market for their coffee and to finally receive fair prices for their work. As member Don Rodriguez states, "we believe that legally we will have to come out victorious in this but as we know there always exists the power of force that the large business owners have here in Guatemala". He continues, we "ask that you give us a hand in going against what this mine is doing to our environment and the natural resources and all the laws they are breaking:.

I am very happy to again join Semilla in supporting these farmers and their crucially important and peaceful resistance. For more information, please read Luis Solano's "Under Siege: Peaceful Resistance to Tahoe Resources and Militarization in Guatemala" and Brendan Adam's "Cafe Colis Resistencia".

Our third and final lot from Mataquescuintla this year comes by from Irineo Ramirez. He lives in El Durazno and farms just over 3 hectares alongside his brothers-in-law Gegorio and Rene Muñoz. Brendan at Semilla reflects that he “always loves visiting with these brothers as they are some of the most dedicated members of the resistance movement but also some of the most gentle and sweet”. This is our first harvest sourcing from Rene but he has been selling internationally for the last four years.

Brendan explains, that “Previously, like many others in the group, they would load their trucks with cherries at the end of the day and bring them down to wet mill, La Concepcion, to be depulped and processed”. Given their remote location, it was both time consuming and quite expensive, so the brothers decided to invest in a shared depulper. Such investments are risky, but the rewards are clear in the quality of Irineo's coffee!

Given the high altitude of their farm, there is often less cherries and a late harvest. Previously, the brother have had to sell their early parts of the harvest locally to finance their costs, saving the end of the harvest to export internationally. This year, as part of Semilla’s pre-finance program, we advance 30,000 Quetzal to the brothers so they could hold on to more of their coffee, meaning we were able to export their whole production - some 66 exportable bags - at a differentiated price!

Mataquescuintla lots are the perfect fit for our Shady Lane profile with their chocolate backdrops, lush caramels and jammy fruit notes. Bernardo's lot on espresso really highlights all those chocolate and cooked sugars, tasting like an oreo cookie. These base notes pair perfectly with the cup's malic acidity with a nice zip of tangerine against hazelnut butter and milk chocolate. 

Our long term partner in Mataquescuintla has been Olita Lima Reyes, who sadly could not export this year due to ongoing health issues. To help her, we have added $0.55 USD per kilogram to all our Mataquescuintla purchases this year. 

For espresso, use a 1:2 to 1:2.1 ratio in 29-34 seconds.
Apple Cider & Ferrero Rocher.
Las Mesas, Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. 
El Nanse.
Pache San Ramon.
Brendan at Semilla.
$11.91 USD per Kilogram.
(This is the price before transport costs including shipping, brokerage, etc.) 
This is our first harvest from Irineo Ramirez.