The Guatemalan grading system defines Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) as being coffee grown at elevations higher than 4,500 feet above sea level, and the Hard Bean (HB) grade as beans grown between 4,000 feet and 5,000 feet above sea level. Central Standard coffee is grown at altitudes below 2,300 feet above sea level while it is generally used more in commercial brands than elsewhere. The low temperatures and high altitudes of a Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) or Strictly High grown (SHG) grades aid in producing a slow maturing fruit as well as a harder, more dense bean. European Preparation (EP) is a intensive hand sorting process through coffee used to remove any unwanted or foreign material as the final step of the coffee process.
Coffee in Guatemala
Guatemala, approximately the size of Ohio, ranks second in the world (after Colombia) in the amount of high grade quality coffee in produces. It also is one of the most climatically diverse regions in the world. There are seven distinct types of Guatemalan Arabica coffees all varied based on soil, rainfall, altitude and temperature: Antigua, Fraijanes Plateau, Rainforest Coban, Highland Huehuetenango, Atitlan, Volcano San Marcos, and Oriente. For the most part, the coffee plantations are situated in valley’s or around volcanic mountains at altitudes varying from 500-5,000 also protected by wind.
THE GROWERS: FINCA HUIXOC
Located in the Huehuetengango region, Finca Huixoc (pronounced “WE-hok”) is an estate that started growing coffee in 1940 by Jose Olivia Chavez and is currently operated by his grandson, Jose Alejandro Solis. In the small town of La Democracia, the estate has taken advantage of rich mountain soil and plentiful rainfall to produce what we think is an one of the most elegant and exciting shade grown Guatemalan coffees available. The coffee is certified by the Rainforest Alliance for the progressive social and ecological practices used in its production. During production, the coffee is hand sorted (also called European Processed) wet processed, and sun dried on cement patios. In Huehue; Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai coffee beans are grown.