New Central American coffees this week / by Bryan Hibbard

I just brought in two new coffees, they will be available for purchase at the Fulshear and Sugarland markets this Saturday, as well as on my website. The funny thing is, that although they are two very distinct coffees from two different countries they are grown less than 100 miles from each other.

Mexico: Chiapas Jacinto

This Mexican coffee is a replacement for my beloved Mexico: Oaxaca (definitely the most popular coffee I have offered). Coffee leaf rust in Central America claimed many crops and my previous Mexico was one of the casualties. Luckily, Mexico is full of great coffee and I was able to find a coffee from neighboring Chiapas that has many of the same qualities as the one from Oaxaca. It is still roasted dark and it still presents a strong and smokey cup with a lingering sweetness and a chocolate aroma. In fact, in initial tests with some of my long-time Mexico customers the main comment was that this coffee is like the old one but more refined and smooth. In fact, due to the higher elevation of this coffee, I was able to roast a tad darker without getting too ashy. The result is more smokey flavors in the cup. That is the problem with offering single origins, you never know if you will have them the next year. But if Mexico: Oaxaca is your regular coffee, give my new Chiapas a try.

Guatemala: Fair Trade Organic Guaya'b Coop

Yes, that is a long name. When I started my business a little over a year ago, I stayed away from Fair Trade and Organic coffees because my number one focus was quality and when I compared an Organic Guatemalan to a conventional Guatemalan, the conventional one was always better. My goal has always been to buy the best coffee available to me and so many of my conventional coffee farmers are getting better than Fair Trade premiums just based on the amazing quality of their coffee. But, I also understand and support the desire to have a product that is trace-ably compassionate and that is certified to be free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. So it has taken me a while to search through the Fair Trade Organic lots but I have finally found a Guatemalan coffee that I think can hold its own against my conventional coffees.

My choice comes from the Guaya'b cooperative in the Huehuetenango region of western Guatemala. The coop consists of 330 smallholder farms that work together to produce a product for the Fair Trade market. The great thing about Fair Trade is that a portion of the Fair Trade premium must go to increasing the well-being of the community. The Guaya'b cooperative has decided to use their premiums to offer medical insurance for all their members, microloans with very low interest rates, and they have invested into producing other agricultural products such as peanuts, fruit and peppers for sale at their local markets. The coop has been Fair Trade since 2000 and since then has reduced migration and stabilized the local economy. The coffee itself is grown according to Organic standards and is picked and processed with care. The medium-roast coffee has an intense sweet honey aroma and has notes of blood orange, milk chocolate, and spice. It is a medium body and acidity. A great coffee that supports an entire community. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I do still offer my Guatemala: Finca Valparaiso.

I hope you enjoy my new offerings.