(Updated for 2022)
You’re probably getting tired of us talking about our trip to Guatemala. So am I, and I’m the one talking. However, one of the best parts of that trip was how it helped us learn how to source coffees in Guatemala. It also gave us a new understanding of what is available to buy and how to think about those offerings. We also saw first-hand how worldwide supply and demand issues have directly impacted coffee pricing. This information tied to the relationships that we built has made me more excited than ever about the Guatemalan coffees we’ll be launching this year. In fact, I wrote them all out on my whiteboard last week and feel like I got a little too excited buying perhaps a few too many.
I want to talk a little bit about the strategy I took this year, so you know what to expect in our Guatemalan offerings. As is our habit, we are always looking for a coffee with the same traditional flavor notes. We love the coffees from Guatemala with a sweet caramel note, creamy vanilla ice cream mouthfeel, and rich chocolate finish. It isn’t hard to find in that country, but it is hard to find one that really stands out from the rest. We found that on the first day of cupping coffees in Guatemala. It was #6 on the cupping table and everyone in the room recognized it as the best. It also felt like we were tricked into something because it was a specially curated blend that Onyx coffee had been working on. I normally shy away from blends, because our mission is to put on display the hard work of the producers in their coffees. However, this is a unique case. We have people at origin working with various small farmers to produce an amazing blend that can be combined to elevate the coffee and in turn bring more money to these producers. This blend gave me, the U.S.-based coffee roaster, enough supply to last a year (or frankly about 9 months). This is the kind of blend that I can get behind. So I felt like my “Guate Gold” was sourced.
Then the real cupping started. I think we tried 50 coffees in the next four days (27 in one session) and I still have notes from many of them. My whole Guatemalan coffee world changed. I couldn’t believe how many different flavor profiles you could get from a single country. We picked some coffees that we wanted and decided to cup a few more once we got home. So here we stand nearly six months later with an amazing line-up of Guatemalan coffees from the 2022 crop season. We are a little late this year with the launches because logistic issues really are a thing. But, I cannot begin to describe how excited I am for this line-up. Let me try anyways though.
Guate Gold, err. Guate Brown:
This year’s Guate Gold is a brown label. Why? It certainly isn’t because of the quality of this bean. We absolutely love it. So much so, we’re launching it on bar as our espresso. But we just got overly picky with the other offerings and it ended up being the least expensive Guatemalan coffee that we’re offering this year. To leave room for some of these other unique and amazing coffees, we’re launching Guate Gold as a brown label this year. Don’t let that scare you away. If you’ve been a fan of this coffee for years, you won’t be disappointed!
Actual Guate Golds:
We have several coffees that will fit this category this year. Our first one will be a couple of bags we were able to acquire from the farm that Jonathan and I stayed at while we were in Guatemala, Finca Vista Hermosa. This is Don Edwin’s farm and he was the best host. We were happy to snag a couple of bags simply to support our gracious hosts, but when we started cupping we were really impressed with what they were able to produce. I took home a bag last week and every morning felt the reflex to comment on it. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have a lineup of releases of different coffees that meet this price point and classification that will take you on a journey through what Guatemala can do with coffee.
This is where the excitement bubbles over. We’re easing into this with a bag of a very light and smooth coffee. It is great, so I don’t want to undersell it, but we were able to participate in a couple of auctions including the Guatemala Cup of Excellence. We, with our buying group, were able to snag several of the best lots of coffee coming out of Guatemala, maybe ever. We also dipped our toe in the one-of-a-kind auction that offers traditional varieties in small lots of very high-scoring coffees and got an entire lot from that auction. Black-label Guatemalan coffees this year will be like nothing we’ve ever offered before. I can’t wait for them to come in and to start getting them out to you all.
Regardless of your preference or price point, you will have as much fun as we have this year when you grab one of our Guatemalan coffees. Start with the Fenix today and go from there as we receive and launch each of them.
The History of Our Guatemalan Coffees (December, 2020)
If you ever browse our coffee catalog, we can assure you that a Guatemalan Gold Label coffee will always be available, no matter what. That’s a promise, and it has been throughout the past six years. Not only is it our best seller year after year, but it actually holds significant sentimental value to us as well. And, in light of the release of our brand-new Guatemalan coffees, we’re going through a mini history lesson about how our Guatemalan coffee selection has developed over the years.
To learn about the origins of our Guatemalan coffee offerings, we have to go back to the very beginning of Sagebrush. Back when we were roasting out of a single ½ pound countertop roaster. In the early beginnings of Sagebrush, I was always on the lookout for new coffees and was actively figuring out how to develop a coffee catalog. In the midst of this search for delicious beans, I came across what is known today as a Guatemalan Gold Label. At the time, it was the Guatemalan Los Santos, and it quickly became a bestseller and a standout amongst our other offerings. In fact, it was the first coffee we offered that we actually purchased a full burlap bag of, and it really hasn’t stopped growing in popularity since. Its chocolatey, caramelly, creamy flavor profile makes it one of the most versatile coffees for any coffee lover. You really can’t go wrong with it, which is why we approach Guatemalan coffee a little bit differently than our other coffees.
Usually, when we set out to purchase a new coffee, we have one question in our mind: “what is the absolute best coffee we can find?” and whenever that question is answered, we buy that coffee. But when it comes to our Guatemalan Gold Label coffee, that question is altered slightly. Instead, we ask: “what is the best Guatemalan coffee with chocolatey, caramelly, creamy flavor notes?” This ensures we maintain a consistent Guatemalan Gold bean for as long as possible. If it means switching farms throughout the years to maintain quality control, then that’s something we’re willing to do, and it’s something we have done. A Guatemalan that we offered for quite a long time (Guatemala La Bolsa) was a staple in our catalog. But, as our connections grew and our standard for a gold label became higher and higher, we felt it best to find a new “Guate Gold” candidate. In late 2019, while we were searching for a Guatemalan in this way, we came across the Guatemala La Esperanza. Simply put, it was spectacular, and we immediately pushed it as our Guate Gold. Fast forward a year, and our supply of this crop has unfortunately dwindled as any coffee supply does. So we went about this same process once again and have decided to stick with this same specific La Esperanza region because it is just so good. Usually, our Guate Golds are out-of-the-park delicious, but this new Guatemalan honestly blows the standard through the roof. It is without a doubt the best Guatemalan Gold coffee we’ve offered here at Sagebrush (and that’s saying something, considering how many years we’ve offered it). We’re excited to introduce this new bean into our catalog and are even more excited to continue to develop this Guate Gold category in Sagebrush throughout the coming years.
If you decide to try any of these coffees, please let us know what you think! Customer feedback is the most helpful when choosing new offerings.