This is one of those coffees – and relationships – that we would like to attribute to fate. When we first purchased coffee from Finca Nueva Armenia in 2002/2003 through one of our importers, we were looking for a high-quality, certified organic coffee from Guatemala. Back then, we had another Guatemalan coffee from a conventional farm in Antigua that received more attention from our more quality-focused customers and this, the Organic Guatemala Huehuetenango (I know this will ring bells with some of you), we directed to the more environment-focused, Sanctuary-shade-grown-coffee-buying customers.
A couple of years later, we realized that we actually liked Finca Nueva Armenia's coffee just as much as the coffee we were buying from Antigua, not to mention it was certified organic, and we decided to focus our purchasing and marketing efforts on Finca Nueva Armenia's coffee. Easier said than done, we learned, because although our importer had given us an e-mail address for the Recinos family, they didn't write back to us until we finally announced that we were hoping to visit them. Thankfully, Jorge gladly agreed to pick us up at the airport in Guatemala City and the rest is trip-report history!
Twin brothers Jorge and Javier Recinos are third-generation coffee growers and fourth generation on the family's land in Huehuetenango, which their paternal great-grandfather purchased before coffee made its way to the remote regions of northern Guatemala. Their grandfather planted the first Bourbon-variety coffee trees on the slopes of Finca Nueva Armenia – New Armenia Farm, but don't let the name confuse you, they have no connection to the country of Armenia – in the 1940s some 70 years ago and many of those trees remain to this day, having been pruned back to stumps many times but still producing lush, green foliage and burgundy-red coffee cherries.
The twins' father, Antonio, grew up in the then-wild environment of the farm and, although he pursued medicine as a profession and ultimately moved the family from Huehuetenango down to the capital city, his connection to the farm remains even now that he's too old to make the 8-hour journey. In the 1990s, Antonio's sons dedicated themselves to the farm – while studying agronomy and environmental engineering – and became familiar with organic agriculture and increasingly believed that the principles and practices of organic management fit perfectly with their family's farming philosophy. Finca Nueva Armenia is one of the first organic farms in Guatemala.
Jorge and Javier take turns spending two weeks on the farm in Huehuetenango and sometimes, during the peak of harvest, they leave their families behind in Guatemala City to take care of farm business together. Although they donít make a point of following the coffee industry (the famous El Inherto is very nearby and they have only visited once), the Recinos brothers are quite conscious of their farmís natural beauty and have internalized their responsibility in a way that is unmatched by any grower we have ever met. Finca Nueva Armenia pursued organic and Bird Friendly certifications on the volition of these two brothers, long before a market developed for them and despite constant pressure to increase production and forsake the costs of certification. Without fail, these two are also unflaggingly open and good-natured, and Jorge in particular is never without a smile (we attribute this to his mother, Noemi, who shares the trait).
Just outside the village of La Libertad and a mere five kilometers from the Mexican border, Finca Nueva Armenia is nestled in a crevice between two towering peaks of the Cuchumatanes mountain range. The farmhouse, wet mill, and dairy cattle range are located at about 1,200 meters above sea level, and the coffee fields rise steeply from there to reach 1,900 meters.
Elevation: 1,000 - 1,500 meters
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, and San Ramon
Harvest: December 2012 – February 2013
Tasting Notes: Almond, apple, grape
Size of Farm:
115 hectares in coffee production
Since mid-1990s (a very early adopter of organic certification)
Washed. Depulped, fermented, and washed on farm. Open fermentation for 24 to 36 hours depending on temperature and size of lot; washing in channels.
On patios, with the option of batch rotary dryer for backup. 3-5 days depending on weather.
Casa Agricola Mercantil Y Exportacion De Cafe, S A, (CAMEC) in Guatemala City