Monday, Jan 30, 2017 Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and Coffee Plantation
We got up early for this tour and headed out on a more manageable bus that took us from the port to the mountains (5000 ft) to visit a coffee plantation. Along the way, we were amazed to see ash and steam spewing from an active volcano! There was also smoke on the low lands where sugarcane was being burned supposedly to kill snakes and make the fields safe for the workers.
At the El Barretal Coffee Farm, music greeted us, as well as a large poster honoring Jorge Ubico who was president in the 1930’s and 40’s. The owner of the farm gave an introduction with a documentary film on the art of growing coffee.
From there we were escorted to the base of a low mountain covered with a new planting of coffee trees and protective forest. It is import to plant the protective trees in rows along with the coffee producing variety. The new planting is necessary to protect against a disease that had infected the old coffee trees. Experimentation was conducted at the University to find a coffee tree immune to the disease. (Tom held back and did not ask if a Statistically Designed Experiment had been utilized in this research).
We tasted the coffee berry which contains the bean. It was juicy, but bitter. An orange about the size of a golf ball was also very bitter - tasting like a lemon.
The next stop was the drying of the beans which takes place in the courtyard in full sunlight. The roasting process was described and we were shown the stages of the roast from green coffee to full French roast. The dried coffee bean still has a husk which needs to be removed before roasting.
After this extensive learning process, we retired to the shop and were treated to a cup of “The Best Coffee in the World.” Anne also found some authentic woven textiles which is another famous product of Guatemala.