Guatemala, Benito Perez Pablo
Guatemala, Benito Perez Pablo
Farmer: Benito and Lorencha Perez Pablo
Region: Chanjón, Huehuetenango
Varietals: Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai
Flavour Notes: Chocolate chip cookie, brown sugar, smooth and balanced
Benito is a member of the ASDEFLOR Association, located in the township of Chanjón, in the Todos Santos Cuchumatán municipality in the department of Huehuetenango. ASDEFLOR is the Asociación de Desarrollo Flor del Café (Coffee Flower Development Association), and it is a tiny collective of just 30 members, all of whom belong to the Mam Mayan indigenous community. Mam is still the language used, Spanish being a second-language used only when speaking to mestizos. The Association owns a communal wet-mill where most members process their coffee. Fermentations are long and cold, between two and three days, and producers cover the tanks in thick plastic to ensure a homogenous and clean fermentation. At around 1700 masl, parchment is dried partially on raised beds and finished on patios at the wet-mill site.
The Association was legalized as ASDEFLOR in 2012 but the members had been working collaboratively long before. Previously they have only sold locally, bulking their parchment together and delivering to a co-Op who pays market rate. Located quite far away, and often taking too long to deliver payment, many producers are choosing to hold their coffee back and look for other, better paying markets. When we first visited the market rate was below cost of production and as harvest was delayed due to cold weather and frost incidents, producers were in a very difficult position. This year, a scarcity of pickers (because of covid domestic travel restrictions and because many farm workers chose to cross the border in search of better lives) made the harvest challenging for producers in the region, and increased wages to farm laborers meant increased costs of production for members of ASDEFLOR, including Benito.
All the members of the Association used to be subsistence farmers of maize and frijol, and many previously felt forced to migrate to the US and send money home. These days, many have found a more stable incoming after planting coffee are now able to stay on their land and haven’t crossed the border since. However, the price of coffee has been low for several years,threatening their ability to ensure their basic needs are met. The producers are fearful for theirfuture but are buoyed by the relationship we have initiated, having found a nice market that pays prices that represent real viability for coffee farming.
Benito Perez Pablo is a long-term member of the ASDEFLOR association, though he migrated many years ago to the United States to find work and send money back home to his children. He’s able to travel to and from Guatemala to manage and oversee the coffee harvest, and his wife- who goes by Lorencha- manages the farm in his absence. Benito and Lorencha have 3 children- their oldest is an adolescent and helps on the farm, and the other two are small and go to school. Lorencha and Benito process their coffee at the Association’s communal wet mill. To process, they transport cherries to the Association’s wet-mill, depulp them and ferment in cement tanks without water before being dried over raised beds and patio for around a week.