Origin Report: Guatemala

The inception of Finca la Senda, now run by Arnoldo Pérez Melendez and his wife Maria Eugenia Escobar, dates back to the forties, when Arnoldo’s father pioneered the plantation of coffee in the surroundings of the Aldea el Socorro in Acatenango.

The Finca extends from the borders of the village up to mount Balàm, the hill of the Jaguar in native language. Coffee is planted at an altitude between 1’550 and 1’970 meters, while nature is taking its own course further up the mountainside, respecting the unique biosphere. Coffee is harvested on an extension of broadly 27 hectares.

Arnoldo spent his entire life with coffee, a beloved product that supported his family as well as many families in Aldea el Socorro, given that all of his employees (14 throughout the year, ca. 70 during harvest) are villagers.

Over the last decades, Arnoldo’s focus was on farming, with the coffee being delivered to the local cooperative. This long-dated model took an unexpected turn in 2017, with our farm visit. Our blind-tasting of many of the coffees in the region pointed out the potential of the farm’s cherries. The subsequent discussion gave the ignition light that motivated Arnoldo to build his own “beneficio” (coffee processing plant), with constructions initiated in April 2017 and completed over the course of six months, right in time for the start of the harvest.

While being late starters, Arnoldo and his family combined their deep knowledge in the agricultural space with best practices in processing, learned and developed with the strong support of his friends and partners. In its first year of own processing, Finca la Senda focused its efforts on consistent cherry selection, long and controlled fermentations as well as slow shadow-drying.

The varieties cultivated at the Finca include Caturra (ca. 65%), Bourbon (ca. 25%) and Typica (ca. 10%), all harvested between late November and April. 

Good nutrition, the volcanic soil (the “Volcan de Fuego” sits about 15 km from the farm) and a supportive climate provide for an ideal terroir, as confirmed by the consistent results of local farms at Cup of Excellence.

Apart from the common profiles of the region, characterized by sweet flavours of stonefruits, citrus, bright acidity and good body we have observed that Finca La Senda’s prolonged fermentations and experimental processes emphasize these characteristics and significantly increase complexity. Whereas the region-typical flavours are still present, we have found an increase in exotic flavours such as grapes, berries, jasmine, tamarind, blackcurrant and ripe or tropical fruits, depending on the process (and variety). We have further noticed that the increase in these acidities improve the perception of sweetness and lead to a pleasant juiciness.