January 6, 2016
Do you want a one-of-a-kind, true Guatemalan experience all while supporting local communities, interacting with local Guatemalans, and getting off the beaten path?
We had friends visiting from Atlanta, Georgia over the Holidays. It was their first time in Guatemala so we wanted to make their travels extra speical. One of our favorite adventures during their visit was a day with De la Gente Coffee Cooperative that was lead by one of the small-holder coffee farmers in their program. With Marta as our guide, we received the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a farmer. It started with a short hike up Volcán Agua in San Miguel Escobar outisde of Antigua to see the her family’s coffee fields with a beautiful volcano view. Lucky for us it is coffee harvest time here, so as learned about the coffee plants, cultivation, and harvesting…we picked ripe coffee berries!
The Antigua Guatemala Region is one of the most popular throughout the world . It is often characterized for being outstanding in the cup. This coffee’s complexity varies and normally exhibits a floral acidity that is often spicy or chocolaty.
This valley is enclosed by three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Its climate is temperate year-round with steady moisture that makes this a suitable and perfect place for coffee to be slowly nurtured. Cool nights finalize the process of stabilization, allowing for no extreme climate variations between the dry and wet seasons of Guatemala.
After we our hike we were invited into Marta’s house to learn about the coffee machinery used by the cooperative like the amazing bike pedal run machine that depulps the freshly picked coffee beans.
We then used previously dried beans (it takes several days to dry beans) to roast in Marta’s kitchen on her family’s comal. (A comal is traditionally used to cook tortillas, toast spices, sear meat, etc.)
Next we used a traditonal metate to grind the roasted beans. (A metate is an ancient stone tool used for processing grain and seeds.)
Finally…Marta combined our roasted coffee beans with hot water and we enjoyed one of the best cups of coffee we have ever tasted.
What a wonderful way to support a wonderful organization. We highly recommend their coffee tour (as well as their other tours and workshops too!).
There are 30 members in the San Miguel Cooperative. The farmers are generally small-holders, owning an average of approximately 3 acres of land. The farmers and their families cultivate, harvest, and process the coffee with care. De la Gente offers community tourism as a way to create a real cultural experience by encouraging interaction between visitors and local Guatemalans, as well as to supplement income for the farmers and artisans. While De la Gente takes a small portion of the cost of the tour to cover administrative costs, the vast majority goes directly to the farmer. All money from the sales of additional coffee bought from the farmer remains with the farmer. With the additional money from tourism, the families are able to invest in education for their children, healthcare for themselves and their family, housing, and nutrition. Community Tourism – Changing Lives.