Santa Isabel, Coban Guatemala - Filter Roast
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Santa Isabel is a fifth-generation family farm, comprising 300 hectares in the beautiful and rugged region of Alta Verapaz: a unique growing region in Guatemala that has remarkable mountains, a cool climate and plenty of rainfall, as well as dense rainforest and impressive flora. Founded in 1875, the farm is today owned by Luis Valdés Sr and managed by his son, who is also called Luis—or, to his friends and family, “Wicho”.
Wicho grew up watching and helping his father on the farm and fell in love with coffee from a very young age. After school, he went on to study agriculture, before returning to work at Santa Isabel in 1998. Wicho’s passion and love for the farm is evident as soon as you meet him. As explained very simply to us on our most recent visit, “We love it here.”
The Valdés family care a lot about preserving their natural environment, and have dedicated nearly one-third of their farm (88 hectares) to a natural forest reserve—made up of cedar, pine and mahogony trees—which helps protect natural water resources and encourage biodiversity, providing a habitat for local animal and birdlife. Wicho also grows macadamia nut trees on the farm, which he harvests, roasts and sells.
The remaining 200 hectares of the farm at Santa Isabel is dedicated to coffee production. The plantation is planted out with Caturra (80%) and Catuaí (20%) variety trees. Wicho adopts a 3 year/3 row approach to pruning, to optimise ventilation and light (and reduce excess humidity), which minimises fungal disease (including leaf rust) and, in turn, the need for chemical applications. Inga trees are planted throughout the plantation to provide shade for the coffee trees and help enrich the soil by providing a healthy cover of foliage. Furthermore, frequent application of vermicompost (using the by-products of wet-processing) has enabled them to reduce their applications of chemical fertilisers by more than 15%.