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Article: Journey to the Source 2020: Finca La Uníon, Guatemala

Voyage à la source 2020: Finca La Uníon, Guatemala
Récits de voyages

Journey to the Source 2020: Finca La Uníon, Guatemala

uring the last days of our trip, we were in Guatemala, more precisely in the Antigua and Acatenango region, to meet our friends Adrian and Sebastian from San Miguel and, of course, to meet the team behind Finca La Uníon, which produces the coffee we use for our Holycow espresso! Meeting again this year Don César Higueros, owner of the farm, as well as his wife Nora Higueros was a real pleasure.

The La Unión micro-mill

Meeting again this year Don César Higueros, owner of the farm, as well as his wife Nora Higueros was a real pleasure. On both sides, the relationship that we have developed in view of this 3rd year of collaboration is more than significant.

For the Higueros, Café Saint-Henri was the very first customer to buy directly from Finca La Unión. This allows Don César to obtain a much better price than when his coffee ends up being mixed with that of other farmers and exported anonymously. On the contrary, Saint-Henri strives to highlight the name of the producer and the name of the farm that produces the coffee. This is how “César Higueros” and “La Unión” are found on each of the thousands of Holycow bags! which are sold every year. A purpose that is much more rewarding for a farmer who is extremely proud of his work and whose work and know-how deserve full recognition. In addition, this has a significant financial impact, since we purchase approximately 20% of the total production of Finca La Unión.

micro-mill La Unión

For Saint-Henri, the relationship built with La Unión is critical, since, in recent years, this is the largest quantity of coffee purchased annually from the same producer in the entire Saint-Henri portfolio. As mentioned above, this is the coffee that makes up Holycow espresso! for about eight months of the year and which is by far the coffee most often purchased by Saint-Henri aficionados.

Don César is an absolutely positive man, and this positivism is absolutely contagious. Despite his age (and some health problems) nothing seems to stop Don César. This year, he welcomed us with two major surprises: first, Don César had a new building erected housing an office (we can't wait to tell you for what purpose), a kitchen (which could also be used as a small cupping space) and a magnificent terrace, where we sat down to share a little snack.

Secondly, he had another building erected, more imposing than the first, which he is in the process of completing by April in order to better “ process ” (i.e., depulp, ferment and wash) micro-batches.

Don César in its new almost dedicated building which will be dedicated to micro-lots

Let's return to the new building housing a beautiful office space. Last year, when we met the Higueros, Donna Nora told us that she rarely came to the farm and that she spent most of her time in Guatemala City. Not long ago, Don César was diagnosed with a minor health problem. Rest assured: he is doing very well and everything is taken care of. But this event made Mrs. Higueros realize that she knew little about the day-to-day operations on the farm, and that it was time for her to become more involved in the Unión. You know the rest: the new building is the office that Don César had built for Nora so that she could comfortably keep watch.

We would also like to highlight the daily presence on the farm and the essential contribution of Mayra Higueros, César's niece, who is the administrator of Finca La Unión. Mayra has worked there since she was 12 (!) and knows everything here from A to Z. She will undoubtedly prove to be a first-class successor. Following our visit last year, Mayra also had a little surprise for us this year: she had learned, during the current year, several French words to converse with us. Needless to say, our hearts melted! ❤️

F with Mayra, Don César and Nora Higueros

After walking around the farm, walking to the waterfall where we took our annual photo (always accompanied by old Tarzan, Caesar's dog), we went back to the new building to share a cake that Adrian and Sebastian had brought to mark the feast of Don Caesar, which will take place a few days after our visit. What a coincidence that it was not only César's party but also Mayra, Julie and JF (our two coffee buyers). Far be it from us to indulge in esotericism, but sometimes, affinities seem to be traced in advance in the stars!

Celebration cake with Adrian and Sebastian (San Miguel), Megan and Mat (Axil Coffee roaster), Julie and JF (Saint-Henri) and César, Nora (Finca La Unión)

The next day we headed to the San Miguel laboratory. A very long cupping/tasting session would follow: some 100 coffees (including the different batches of Caesar) were tasted. 100 coffees available in 3 cups (300 cups) each tasted at least 4 times... some 1000 sips later (in fact 2000 sips if we count those of Julie and JF), the batch that we will buy this year from César Higueros to make our famous Holycow was finally chosen. This new harvest will be served from May 2020 in our Cafés Saint-Henri and at our commercial partners.

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