A Look into the Guayabales Farm
The Guayabales lot of our Guatemalan coffee from Pedro Villatoro Castillo is one of the few coffees that we cupped in Guatemala and decided to buy before traveling back home. My cupping note was “So good. Perfect,” but the question is why? What makes this coffee amazing? The answer is simple, hard work, discipline, and experience.
This may be the first year we’ve offered a Guayabales lot, but they have been an example of consistency for many years. The farm started in the late 1970s at what I say is the perfect elevation for a coffee farm in Guatemala - 1800m. High enough to produce good dense and flavorful coffee, but low enough to get a great yield from some very good varieties. From what I understand, Guayabales coffees have always presented excellent acidity, a rich hard candy sweetness, and a bright fruity through-line. Pedro uses aggressive pruning methods more than most of his siblings and it seems to be working well for him. Yes, he comes from a family of coffee farmers, his father, Mr. Eleodoro de Jesús Villatoro López, passed away at the age of 92 having started his farming work in the mid-1950s. Pedro is carrying out the family legacy by getting a great yield of premium cherries using the natural shade from both trees and the steep incline land itself. The aspect and slope of his farm provide cover during the early morning and often fog in the afternoon, slowing growth and developing sugars.
I haven’t spent much time with Pedro, we were in a room together cupping coffees and I cannot remember saying two words to each other. I guess this proves the reputation he has as a quiet man that takes a disciplined approach to his craft. Saying very little, Pedro observes before asking the perfect question. All of his brothers respect him a great deal, and when he does speak up they all listen intently. A great listener with an open mind, Pedro is very patient and steady. He has two daughters and six sons, and his sons Ervin and Nehemias both work on the farm with him.
Guayabales, like all farms in Guatemala, has had its challenges. While Pedro has mostly overcome leaf rust, a devastating fungus to coffee producers, in the past years, the difficult road to Hoja Blanca makes the harvest difficult, especially after heavy rains. Pedro isn’t satisfied with his third-place finish at the Guatemala Cup of Excellence. He has taken the awards and, as is his personality, started the next day to focus on improving his work. He’s constantly playing with coffee varieties and processing techniques. I’m excited to start partnering with him and cannot wait to see what he’ll do this coming year.