For the past three years the small producers at the six base cooperatives that make up CODECH have been segregating the dry parchment coffee submitted to the local warehouses by altitude, allowing buyers like us to find special coffees that come from specific base cooperatives, altitudes and harvesting times. The top three altitude ranges are considered to be the best, and on Thursday we had the opportunity to cup a total of 24 coffees in an effort to determine the top 5 of those coffees that have been harvested so far. I say so far, because the top altitude coffees around 1900-200 meters above sea level are still being harvested.
The initial cuppings took place at FECCEG, a third tier cooperative based just outside of Quetzaltenango that mills the coffee for CODECH and also offers export/quality evaluation services. The final round, featuring the top 8 coffees from the preliminary cuppings, took place at CODECH’s office in Concepcion Huista – a very remote town about 6 hours from Quetzaltenango in Huehuetenango. After two full days of cupping we had identified some clearly extraordinary coffees. It’s really quite remarkable what this cooperative is capable of producing, with three distinct profiles among the top quality lots. The basic high-end coffees are very sugar-cane, honey and floral forward in their aroma. These ones typically have a score of 84.5-86 points if they are really spot on. The next are the highly sought after coffees — tropical fruit, stone fruit and sugar cane with elegant and refined sweetness and acidity. We had a couple of these coffees scoring towards 90 points, which is just awesome to see from a cooperative of small producers. Lastly there are some wildly jammy, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry-like coffees that can have an almost port-like character. These are controversial (but I do like them..!).
In the end the ADINTHEC cooperative cleaned up with 1st and 3rd place. Their coffees, grown by around 60 small producers, were remarkably elegant and refined and we were all interested to learn more about their practices and environment. The president of ADINTHEC, Don Alonzo, was naturally very pleased. There was a sense of pride in their work evidenced by body language and communication that, unsurprisingly, correlated to the quality of their coffee. I was actually much more fond of a coffee from another base cooperative (4th place out of 24, from another base cooperative near the beautiful valley of San Martin) which, upon concluding some diligence, may arrive in Ottawa in June/July along with some other selections that tickled my fancy.
We have some great video and images to share of the cuppings and farm visits which will come in a day or two. Tomorrow we are heading to Chiapas and hope to share some of the great imagery from the CODECH competition in the evening.