Smallholder Farmers of San Antonio Huista, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
|Process||Washed / Sparkling Water Decaffeination|
|Variety||Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon|
Dark-Chocolate, Plum, Nougat
Our current seasonal decaf is the decaffeinated version of our ever-popular Mountain Rescue coffee. It is grown by ten smallholder farmers based around the town of San Antonio Huista in Guatemala's famed Huehuetenango region, and has been sourced via our importing partner Primavera.
Primavera was set up by Nadine Rasch who grew up in Guatemala and whose family have had a coffee farm there for four generations. After studying finance in London, Nadine ended up working for a commodities fund where she saw the price for commodity coffee drop sharply. She came to realise that the only way to maintain stable prices for coffee was through quality. After working for one year with speciality coffee importers Mercanta, she moved back to Guatemala to gain experience of how things worked on the ground.
Most of Guatemala's highest quality coffees come from the Huehuetenango region. This is a very remote area of Guatemala, and the farmers' traditional route to market has been through local coyotes who mix all the coffee they collect together a pay the 'market' price. This model leaves no incentive for famers to practice methods that result in higher quality coffee, such as selective picking and better post-harvest processing. It is Nadine and Primavera's mission to change this. They want to educate farmers to produce better coffee that gives them access to the speciality coffee market, higher prices for their product and a more stable future.
This group of smallholder farmers are just some of the beneficiaries of Primavera's work. They are able to use the premium paid by Primavera to reinvest in their farms and wet mills in the hope of achieving higher yields and better quality coffee in the years to come. The coffee is washed in wet mills on each of the farms then sun-dried on patios. The dried parchment coffee is then transported to Nadine's family farm at Finca el Hato where it is sorted, dry-milled and packed for onward transport to ourselves.
SPARKLING WATER DECAFFEINATION PROCESS
The sparkling water decaffeination procedure is a gentle, natural and organically certified process which involves the following steps:
The green beans enter a ‘pre-treatment’ vessel where they are cleaned and moistened with water before being brought into contact with pressurised liquid carbon dioxide. When the green coffee beans absorb the water, they expand and the pores are opened resulting in the caffeine molecules becoming mobile.
The beans are then brought into contact with the pressurised liquid carbon dioxide which combines with the water to essentially form sparkling water. The carbon dioxide circulates through the beans and acts like a magnet, drawing out the mobile caffeine molecules.
The sparkling water then enters an evaporator which precipitates the caffeine rich carbon dioxide out of the water. The now caffeine free water is pumped back into the vessel for a new cycle.
This cycle is repeated until the required residual caffeine level is reached. Once this has happened, the circulation of carbon dioxide is stopped and the green beans are discharged into a drier.
The good caffeine selectivity of the carbon dioxide guarantees high retention of other coffee components which contribute to taste and aroma.