The sweet offering from Luis "Wicho" Valdes in Guatemala is an excellent example of overlooked qualities from uncommon origins. This refreshingly easygoing coffee belies a subtle harmony of flavors: lush tropical fruit notes and zesty acidity accompanied by delightful sweetness and a velvety mouthfeel. Coffee from the Coban region of Guatemala, part of the country's rainforest-covered Alta Verapaz department, can be challenging for producers due to constant humidity and precipitation year-round. "Wicho," however, has applied his lifelong experiences and education to overcome this obstacle by producing exceptional coffee.
Most coffee lovers are familiar with southern or western Guatemala owing to the proliferation of balanced and caramel-sweet profiles across these regions. Coban, on the other hand, tends to be overlooked in specialty buying, despite being one of the country's top-producing regions and receiving an official quality designation from Guatemala's own national coffee sector, Anacafe.
Finca Santa Isabel is a 70-hectare estate just down the highway from the region's namesake city of Coban. Luis Valdes, affectionately known a "Wicho" to distinguish him from his father and grandfather who are also named Luis, has been running Santa Isabel since 1999. Wicho began to follow his father around the estate when he was young and later earned an agricultural engineering degree before taking over the reins of the business.
In the past ten years, Wicho's coffee has become one of the most sought-after in Guatemala. He is an experienced and determined coffee producer capable of managing great complexities. A normal day during harvest involves calibrating 500 pickers on each variety in the field, daily processing, multiple simultaneous drying scenarios, over 200 hectares of coffee and forest management to maintain, experimental variety plots to plan, and a constantly threatening climate to monitor hour by hour. It takes quite a producer to get all the variables right.
Grower: Luis "Wicho" Valdes| Finca Santa Isabel
Variety: Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra, Obata and Sarchimor
Region: San Cristobal, Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Altitude: 1400-1500 masl
Soil: Clay Loam
Process: Fully washed and dried in the sun