FLAVOR NOTES : Orange Spritz, Red Apple, Chai Spices
PRODUCER : Rosa Maria & Rogelio Ovalle
ALTITUDE : 1,850 MASL
PROCESS : Fully Washed
VARIETAL : Caturra & Catuai
El Limonar comes to us from Rogelio Aguirre Ovalle and his mother Rosa Maria Ovalle. This farm has been in the same family for over 100 years. It was part of a larger estate that, like many coffee farms through the generations, was divided amongst the children of the original owner (Rogelio's great-grandfather if I remember correctly). This estate was divided into Finca Injerto (the most famous farm in Guatemala if not the world) Finca Injerto II and Finca El Limonar. All of these farms processing stations and other infrastructure sit in the same bowl-like valley, their coffees growing on the extremely steep surrounding mountains. The farm is situated near La Libertad, Huehuetenango, right by the Mexican border. You can see Mexico from the top of the farm and our cell signal always switches to a Mexican carrier when visiting with Rogelio and Rosa Maria.
Finca El Limonar was taken over by Rogelio's dad in 1986. In the early 90's Rogelio's father died in an accident, for a short time Doña Rosa Maria took over the farm but Rogelio's uncle basically took ownership from her (unfortunately rural society and family politics in many coffee growing areas, especially until very recently, didn't really accept female ownership and operation of farms). This didn't sit well with Doña Rosa Maria and she took ownership of the farm back after a couple of years. Doña Rosa Maria is a very strong and inspiring woman. She doesn't take shit from anyone but it's apparent she is the heart of the family.
When Doña Rosa Maria took the farm back it was producing only a small amount of commodity coffee. She saw the opportunity to produce speciality and she started planting more areas of the farm and improving their operations. They are now producing 100 times what they were in the mid-90's. 70 hectares of the farm is planted in shade-grown coffee as well as macadamia nuts and 22.5 hectares are set aside as a natural reserve. Their coffee placed in the Cup of Excellence both in 2013 and 2014 and they are looking to place again this year. This is some of the absolute best coffee coming our of Guatemala.
One struggle Rogelio and Doña Rosa Maria face every year is finding available labor to harvest all of their coffee. They have to pay a higher labor rate due to the steepness of the terrain on which their farm is situated but even with higher labor rates labor is hard to come by. This year they were his especially hard with lack of available labor during a very big production year. So much coffee ripened at the same time that they were unable to hire enough pickers to harvest it all leaving much of it to simply dry on the tree. This results in lower availability of specialty grade coffee coming from the farms and also increases labor costs as workers are still necessary to clean up the coffee that wasn’t harvested properly or fell to the ground in order to minimize the risk of pests on the farm. Despite all of the challenges, some really great coffees are coming from El Limonar this year just like every year.
In the 2019 lot is super clean and we are tasting a lot of notes of fresh, light and sparkling citrus like an orange spritzer, really sweet apple notes and a complex spice character a lot like nutmeg, clove and ginger found in chai.