Finca El Rincón in Guatemala – A family’s pride

People

Hernán Pérez is the man behind Finca El Rincón. It is located high up in the mountains of Huehuetenango, on the border with Mexico near the small town of Aguas Dulces. The coffee from Hernán Pérez has been a steady contribution to the assortment of The Coffee Quest. It started out as one of the first Guatemalan coffees imported in 2016. 

Over time we have noticed a good consistency in quality, thanks to the high production standards, altitude, segmentation of varieties and the steady weather conditions high up in the mountains. The Coffee Quest is extremely proud of this unique relationship with the Pérez Family because it helps us to find the blend that fits our customers.

Hernán‘s coffee is made with passion and the pride to grow better quality. The farm is a family story with Hernán being the fifth generation. With his father, they share the managing tasks of the Finca: Hernán takes care of everything logistics-related, the quality control, the marketing, the sales and some strategic decisions, like the choice of new varieties. His father supervises the plantations, the harvest and the processes.

The Perez family acquired this farm in the late 1950’s and their green coffee production was around 20 qq (907 kg). At the beginning they only grew Typica Coffee, in 1960 they started introducing new varieties like Red Bourbon and Red Caturra.

The Peréz Family lives in Huehuetenango City most of the time, and moves to the farm during the harvest (between January and April, in the dry season). During the harvest season, the family hires between 150 and 200 people depending on the trend of high or low harvest. They mostly come from communities near the farm. Pickers are usually men, women tend to stay at home and take care of the household. Some women are hired to harvest fruits, very few are coffee pickers. 

Harvesting is the important time of the cultivation cycle. The harvest begins in the low areas of the farm, where the coffee matures earlier. Hernán’s father makes sure with the pickers that the cherries are picked at their optimum point of ripeness, without cutting green beans or camagües (unripes), avoiding hurting the coffee plant and leaving no beans lying on the ground that may attract pests.  

In the same neighborhood is Family Bond’s San Antonio from whom we also source coffee. Both families are the result of a long coffee tradition in Huehuetenango. Together they share experiences and knowledge in all processes, to improve and seek sustainability so that future generations can continue to produce unique and exotic coffee.

Product

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In 2020 we were able to diversify more in terms of specialty lots, separating a Micro lot, but also receiving his Cup of Excellence Geisha remainders. His Natural got him the 7th place (Ponderosa), while his Washed scored 20th place in the 2020 Cup of Excellence. 

Hernán won second prize in the 2018 Cup of Excellence with the first harvest from his Washed Geisha lot. The majority of his coffees are traditionally washed using fermentation pools and washing canals, only recently he has been experimenting with natural processed coffee. He only produces a limited amount of these fruity exceptional lots. The results are there to show.

Price

Current challenges of growing coffee for Hernán and his family are the same as most of the coffee producers in Central America: the low prices of the coffee on the C market and an unstable climate with heavy rains in the Huehuetenango region. For this reason, The Coffee Quest is sure that through fair payment we can help increase productivity and  quality.

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Planet

El Rincón is a hidden natural gem. A part of the Finca is a nature reserve, essential for the Finca’s ecosystem balance. For Hernán and his family, trying to be more sustainable is logical in such a natural wonder, but they also see it as a way to maintain and improve the quality of their production.

The location of El Rincón is slightly remote, in a little region named Agua Dulce, Cuilco, near Mexico’s border. This is one of the most important coffee zones in Huehuetenango known as a Highland Huehue (348 km from Guatemala City). It’s very far to reach, about an hour and a half from Huehuetenango city, or at least that’s where the dirt track starts. From there, it’s still two and a half more hours to the town of Agua Dulce near the Mexican border. 

To keep the natural balance of this small paradise, Hernán and his family grow coffee using some specific practices. They know those practices will have a direct effect on the quality of their cup: the coffee plants grow near shade trees like ingas, grevilleas and other native species. 

The Perez Family  uses organic materials from the forest to fertilize the soils and the cascara for compost. For recycling the water from the washing process, they treat it with calcium hydroxide in order to make the Ph of the waters less acidic. The use of Calcium hydroxide is a good example of the Perez family’s way of producing coffee: allying ancestral knowledge with new techniques. The calcium hydroxide or “cal” was used by Native Americans, most of all while cooking corn to make it tastier and easier to digest.

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