The farmers of the Guaya’b Cooperative grow coffee under a dense forest canopy that doubles as the winter home for dozens of species of migratory birds as well as local flora and fauna. It wasn’t always this way. When coffee was introduced to this remote region 40 years ago, it was promoted as an alternative to subsistence agriculture, and farmers were taught to clear forests to make way for this new cash crop. Fortunately, these farmers are closely connected to the health of their land, and have re-established their once logged forests providing much needed shade and diverse ecosystems in which coffee thrives.
Now, a new generation of farmers works to cultivate coffee and a variety of other cash and subsistence crops to increase incomes, and to protect the health of the land.
Thanks to their partnership with our importer, Elan Organic Coffee, Guaya’b has perfected the art of picking, depulping and fermenting their coffee to produce deep, juicy, and full flavored coffee with a truly distinctive character. In fact, the farmers’ coffee is so unique that they periodically run into trouble with ANACAFE, Guatemala’s national coffee marketing wing, which tries to subdue Guaya’b’s flair and replace it with a more generic cup profile produced by less-inventive processing methods.
Not content to merely develop members’ coffee production, Guaya’b has a pilot organic honey project, which also helps to increase coffee yields thanks to improved pollination.
While Hurricane Stan heavily damaged many parts of rural Guatemala in 2005, the farmers of the Guaya’b Cooperative saw their farms protected from flooding, erosion, and landslides thanks to the thick forest canopy and diverse ecosystem below. In future years, we hope to work with Guaya’b to continue the development of their coffee business while balancing the ecological and social needs of their community.