De La Gente NGO has put together a different and more down-to-earth coffee tour by involving the small plot farmers who belong to a cooperative in Ciudad Vieja. So, instead of getting into fancy truck and walk around the large coffee estates surrounding Antigua Guatemala, you take a chicken bus, tuk tuk or taxi to a village in Ciudad Vieja and meet up with the De La Gente farmer and translator in front of the temple of San Miguel Escobar to begin a walk through the fields on the skirts of Volcán de Agua. It’s a little demanding walk for about half hour to 45 minutes up hill until you reach the coffee plots belonging to the Coffee Cooperative of San Miguel Escobar. Once there, the farmer and translator explained how they came together into a cooperative association, how many small farmers decided to start planting coffee instead of the traditional orchard crops, and the different coffee plants they care for. Under the shade of a nispero orloquats tree they explain everything in the process of farming coffee and what entails to be a small producer. This a very informative talk for those unfamiliar with how coffee is produced.
Once everyone walks back to the farmers home, all the other stages of the coffee production are explained, from depulping to drying, from classification to roasting, which brings everybody to the kitchen where the farmer’s wife roasts some coffee on a comal [ceramic terracota grill dish] over an open fire and rotating the simmering coffee simply a wooden spatula. This is the more photographic aspect of the tour and if done correctly, one capture some amazing images. I know I did. ;-) Next, using molcajete, a sort of volcanic mortar and pestle, coffee is grounded until it’s small enough to prepare coffee on a ceramic pot. Everyone seats around a table to talk to each other while sipping a delicious cup of coffee.
Those interested in having lunch with the farmer’s family can do so for an extra fee. The home-cooked meal was delicious, by the way.
Last, you visit the offices of De La Gente to learn about the other activities the offer.
Here’s a slide show with some of the images I produced while documenting the coffee tour experience. Enjoy!
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