company - education - coffee

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Buena Esperanza Alfaro at the WBC Brew Bar

Ltd edition cold brew bottling of Buena Esperanza Alfaro coming this Fall.
I am about to travel to Vienna to hand deliver coffee to be used at the 2012 WBC brew bar. The coffee that I am delivering is from one of our very close producers in Guatemala, his name is Gustavo Alfaro Altuve.  The relationship we formed with this producer happened very organically, and we feel it is a testament to the vision that barismo has always had for quality and authenticity in what we produce.

Sure, it is a good feeling when you find like minds to validate what you believe in, however such insularity can be a negative thing if what is being commended is not in fact authentic. It is refreshing then when time after time voices outside of your close circle are the ones giving validation. First of all it is an honor to be represented at the WBC among a small pool of select roasters from around the world and it is our pleasure to represent our exemplary producer. It is a satisfying feeling when the coffee you have sourced goes on to place 4th in its countries Cup of Excellence program, it is perhaps even more satisfying to know thoroughly the farm and mill and persons responsible for that coffee. This is the note we received from Gustavo Last week:

Dear friends:
We feel very honored to present to you a sample of our recent harvest from one of our premium lots; Buena Esperanza Alfaro one of the winners of the recent Guatemala CoE competition. With this coffee, we would like to share with you the work and commitment of four generations of my family as well as the hope for a better future from all the people that work with us at the farm.
Warm regards from Huehuetenango  
Gustavo Alfaro Altuve
General Manager
Hacienda Santa Rosa S.A.

The small sample of coffee that we are sharing with the coffee community at this high level event is something we are quite proud of as a micro-roaster and as a community focused business. For our local community, the cafes and enthusiastic customers who share our vision for excellent coffees, we are excited to be bringing you the Buena Esperanza lot this season. For now we would like to celebrate this milestone and share with you the story of the talented individuals who made this lot possible.

The following is an account of how barismo met Hacienda Santa Rosa:
Although Gustavo Alfaro is a fourth generation coffee farmer, he is not your typical producer. Upon graduating from the University of Guatemala, Gustavo went on to graduate school in Chile and afterwards pursued further education and a career as a biochemist in South Africa. It was only within recent years that family events brought Gustavo back to Guatemala to take over management of the farm, Hacienda Santa Rosa. When Gustavo took over the family farm he brought enthusiastic new ideas to the business. High on his list of goals was finding a buyer who would share his values on quality and crafting the best product that was possible.

Hacienda Santa Rosa Alfaro is located in the furthest north-west corner of Guatemala. The Buena Esperanza Alfaro lot is located at the highest point on the farm at about 1800 meters above sea level. This specific lot has been in Gustavo’s family for many generations, however only came under Gustavo’s management just a couple of years ago when he bought it from his uncle. The lot had been neglected for nearly a decade with coffee trees and other vegetation growing wild. He obtained the lot for a very good price, however buying it in such shape was a bit of a gamble, it was uncertain what the terroir was capable of producing or what the existing coffee would taste like, he was hoping for the best. In that spirit of hoping for the best, Gustavo renamed the lot, Buena Esperanza, or Good Hope.

The varietal analysis reported that the lot consisted of Mundo Nuevo, a hybrid varietal that is commonly grown at lower altitudes in Brazil. However it unheard of to grow Mundo Nuevo at high altitudes, or to even see it grown in Central America at all. Fortunately for Gustavo (and us), this Mundo Nuevo lot tasted excellent.

Our green buyer first met Gustavo in early 2010 while cupping the Buena Esperanza lot at AnaCafe in Guatemala. Silas liked the coffee quite a bit and was able to arrange a visit to the farm with Gustavo. During the visit, Silas and Gustavo established the beginning of a strong business relationship focused on quality, transparency, and a passion for creating excellent coffee. Not only was Gustavo happy with the reputation behind barismo, he was also very impressed by our personal approach to establishing buying relationships. Barismo was able to buy the first coffee that came from the Buena Esperanza Alfaro lot. This past January Silas spent a week at Hacienda Santa Rosa with production manager Alonzo Gomez, growing more familiar with the farm and the workers at Hacienda Santa Rosa. Soon after that visit Gustavo had a plaque placed along the path just before the entrance to the Buena Esperanza Alfaro lot that sums up his approach for the future of his farm: “Ser el cambio que se quiere ver.” which translates as, “Be the change you want to see.”

Enthusiasm and hard work has sustained the production at Hacienda Santa Rosa, it has also made the operation ready to make the most of the opportunities that come their way. At barismo we feel proud to work alongside a producer who is as passionate about improved quality as we are. We congratulate Gustavo for the recognition he received at the 2012 Guatemala CoE for his Buena Esperanze Alfaro lot, and as a partner we look forward to working on even more micro lot projects with the vision of seeing the coffees at Hacienda Santa Rosa improve year after year.

Tim Borrego
barismo coffeebar & roastery