From Guatemala to Your Cup
Our Guatelmala Atitlan Nahuala is a Fairtrade Certified, medium bodied coffee with a dry, “winey” richness and a black pepper aroma.
Santiago Atitlan sits next to Lake Atitlan, the most picturesque are of all Guatamala and perhaps the world. The lake is surrounded by mountains, three of which are volcanoes: San Pedro, Tolliman and Atitlan. It is on the southeastern ridges of the San Pedro Volcano that the Santiago Atitlan coffee is grown. Santiago is a Tzuthil- Mayan Indian village of about 28,000. All of the coffee grown here is farmed by these native farmers. Each day they must hike from Santiago up the south side of San Pedro Volcano to work their small plots of land, usually 1 to 2 hectacres. This hike takes 1 to 2 hours, and during harvest time the 110 pound sacks of coffee cherries are carried down the mountain on their backs to sell each day.
Santiago is colorful, as the men and women still wear the traditional native garments, the fabric is all hand woven and hand embroidered in the most brilliant and beautiful colors.
By the time they are seven years old, the children begin to learn what their adult roles will be. The boys begin going to the coffee fields with their fathers or one of the village elders to learn their future responsibilities. The girls wake at 5:00AM with their mothers and grandmothers to take the day’s corn to one of the little mills in the town to be cracked and milled for use in making tortillas and soups.
Several times a week they help carry loads of clothes down to the lake where you can see rows of women and girls doing the laundry. From the late 1970’s through 1990 this area was ravished by guerrilla warfare and many of the inhabitants of Santiago lost their lives. In December of 1990 22 members of the community were massacred on the road just outside of Santiago. Today our growers group and their families still provide for the widows and orphans from this massacre.
Illiteracy is high in this area, some 70 to 80% of the people here are unable to read. The elementary school has been closed due to neglect and lack of funds for teacher salaries and materials. A program sponsored by the exporter, Beans for Books, is attempting to change this situation by reserving a portion of the net income of coffee exports to go directly to the rebuilding of the school and the purchase of books. While the exporter provides the funding, it is the farmers and their families that are rebuilding the school, giving them ownership of their children’s future.
Running water, telephones, and electricity are luxuries that are very rare in Santiago. In 1993, Coffee Kids established a “Women’s Entrepreneurial Project” in Santiago, making micro loans to those women who were credit worthy or who either had or wanted to start a small business. The program has taught them about record keeping, banking, and saving for the future. The program has helped to provide more income for these women and their families.
The coffee is certified organic shade grown and is mostly old Arabica Bourbon trees. The whole are is a tropical mountain jungle with dense cover. Our coffee grows within this jungle canopy among the indigenous flora and fauna of the steep mountain slopes.
Over the years the growers group has worked to improve pruning techniques, learn and implement active composting practices, picking only the ripe cherries and developing quality control measures and standards. At the wet mill patios have been repaired and increased to handle the growth of production. These efforts combined have created this unique coffee. The beans are classified as Strictly Hard Bean, the highest classification of coffee beans from Guatamala. They produce a roast of medium body, a dry crispness and distinctive spicy, peppery aromas characteristic of a great Red Zinfandel wine.
The coffee is certified organic by Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). http://www.ocia.org Transaction Certificates to verify authenticity are available upon request.
- Population: 11 million
- GNP Per Capita: $1,500
- Language: Spanish
- Life Expectancy: 69 years
- Safe water access: 60%
- Botanical Species: Arabica. Very small quantity of washed Robusta on the Pacific Coast.
- Botanical Varieties: Arabigo. Bourbon. Typica. Maragogype.
- Origin and History: Introduced by the Jesuits in 1750. The cultivation was developed by the Germans who immigrated after 1860.
- Caffeine Content: 1.32%
- Exportation: 3,581,703 bags
Coffee Kids is an international non-profit agency that works to improve living conditions for women and families in coffee growing communities. More at