The following photos document a trip I took to the Finca Filadelfia coffee plantation outside of Antigua, Guatemala in April, 2015. The altitude, weather and rich volcanic soil of the region combine to produce some of the world’s best coffee beans.
Coffee plants start their life in a nursery, nurtured for nine months to a year with plenty of shade and water before being moved to the coffee fields, where they get to work. They can live for up to 100 years, but are usually only productive up till 50 or so. I suppose the same could be said about me.
States of the coffee bean. They start out as little white buds. Each of the buds produces a “cherry”. The cherry starts out green and ripens red. Inside the cherry are two “stones”, aka the coffee beans. When ripe, the cherry is picked by hand by migrant workers, often entire families that come from the lowlands and live on the plantation during harvest season. The bags of cherries are brought back for processing, weighed, then the outer flesh of the cherry is removed with water pressure. The beans are then ready for drying.
Inset of a coffee flavor wheel poster inside the roasting house, which smelled absolutely amazing, by the way. Yet another instance where I wish the technology existed to capture a smell like a photo captures light.
Coffee bean grading is done via random sampling prior to roasting. The grades go Specialty (0-3 defects), Premium (0-8), Exchange (9-23), Below Standard (24-86), and Off Grade (more than 86 defects). This is a tray of Specialty Grade (Class 1) beans. The good stuff.
Of course, there was a cup of coffee at the end of the tour. I went on a similar tour in Bali to see the cultivation of the famed “Civet cat coffee” and I have to admit, I was a bit underwhelmed with that coffee. Not this one, however. No sugar, no con leche, just the Arabica speaking for itself. I savored every drop, my appreciation a bit deeper now that I understood how much work went into that cup of coffee.