The Coffee Bean Journey
Where We Source Our Coffee
Currently, most of Biarte Coffee comes from the Atitlan region in Guatemala. This region provides a fantastic array of microclimates and conditions to produce a top-quality coffee. It is here where my family has been cultivating coffee for more than 22 years, at Finca Santo Tomas Perdido. My brother Jorge, shown in the picture on top, is the present farm manager.
Coffee fields adorn the skirts of the imposing Atitlan volcano, as well as of the valleys next to Lake Atitlan. This region has been cultivated with coffee for more than a hundred years, and its coffee is renowned all over the world.
The journey of a great cup of coffee starts in the field. It is here that producers such as Isaias Castro put tremendous amounts of effort year-round, overcoming storms, droughts, pests, and countless other antagonists throughout the year. They carefully monitor the plant and soil health until the coffee cherry is ripe and perfect to be picked.
The coffee plants get covered with bright red coffee cherries, indicating that they are ripe and good for picking. This scene represents the beginning of harvest season, a great joy for everyone in the region. The pickers, a great part of which are women, carefully select the ripe cherries that produce the highest quality coffee.
After the coffee cherries are picked, they are brought to a wet mill. Here, the ripe coffee cherries pass through machines that remove the pulp from the coffee bean in a process known as depulping.
Without the pulp, the coffee bean is left covered with a slick mucilage. The next step is where the term “washed coffee” comes from, as the beans pass through a “desmucilaginadora” that removes the mucilage using a small amount of water. With the mucilage removed, the bean is moved to a fermentation tank, where it stays until the fermentation level is uniform and the coffee is ready to be dried.
This washed coffee is the most common way coffee is processed in Guatemala, and it is synonymous with excellent quality coffee.
After the coffee leaves the mill, it needs to be dried. The coffee beans are set out under the sun to dry or they are dried in a rotary drier. The best coffees will dry until they reach the optimum moisture content of 11-12%.
The dried coffee is still covered with parchment that has to be removed to reveal the green coffee.
Finally, the coffee is ready for export.
There are many ways the coffee is exported. It is common that when the green coffee is ready, it sits at a warehouse at the country of origin until an export order is placed. Some farmers have pre-negotiated contracts with different importers and/or roasters, and there is also coffee that sits at the warehouse until an order is placed for it.
Biarte and Importing
This is where Biarte comes in! We place an order for the coffee, and when the coffee is on the boat, Biarte takes responsibility for the rest of the journey. Our coffee is imported in 69kg jute bags. We take care of the transportation from the country of origin to the warehouse in the US, until it reaches the roasting facility.
We keep full control over the process to ensure transparency throughout the supply chain. It is very important for us to understand all the costs so we can give the farmer the best price possible; we want to reward them for their hard work and help them continue to do it.
We close the cycle of the coffee bean journey by roasting it. Roasting is essential because the right roast is needed to maximize the wonderful aromas and flavors of each coffee. A bad roast destroys all the hard work our producers put in growing their high-quality coffee.
We are very meticulous with our roasting. All our batches are carefully monitored until the perfect roast has been reached. We are also committed to offering only freshly roasted coffee that highlights the aroma and the flavor of the beautiful tropical scene that it was picked from.
Bagging and Shipping
Finally, the journey ends with us bagging the coffee and sending it to you. Nothing is better than knowing that our customers are enjoying the fruits of the hard labor that took place to deliver it!
For every coffee bag we ship, we know that there will be a happy customer and a happy farmer at each edge of its journey.