Origine trip to Guatemala
In March 2020 Cross Roast went on an origin trip to Guatemala. The goal was to start a direct trade partnership with a specialty coffee producer. Direct trade means that the product is bought directly at the source, meaning at the farm itself. So no extra parties or other buyers are involved. One of the direct trades that came from this trip is the partnership with the Finca El Penon. The finca (finca means farm) is specialized in the production of natural coffees and is situated at 1900 meters in the Huehuetenango province. Each year 1,5 containers of natural coffees are harvested on the Finca El Penon.
Ivan and Claudia
Ivan and Claudia are the proud owners of the finca. The love for coffee, however, already found its origins in a previous generation: Ivan’s grandfather founded the El Penon farm, which means faded mountain. The trade was handed over to Ivan’s father and today Ivan and his wife are continuing the trade. And the next generation is getting ready, too: Ivan and Claudia’s oldest son is only 17, but is already working as a barista in a local espressobar.
The family has big plans for the farm: the renovation of the coffee production and a new guesthouse for visitors are in the works. And that’s just the start!
The couple focuses on innovation at the finca and aims to produce a high quality product. This is partly due to their background: Ivan is an engineer, Claudia a biologist. They both strive to maintain the natural landscape and protect the environment from any adverse effects of coffee growing. 15 of 75 hectares are forest preserves. The other 60 hectares are planted with coffee plants, but with an eye on biodiversity. The right shade plants are not only crucial for coffee plants to grow in a way that produces the best cherries, but it is also important for maintaining a healthy, fertile soil. That is why you can find both coffee plants and shade plants in the plant nursery, ready to be planted on the farm. The goal is to replace all the current shade plants. These are mostly eucalyptus plants, but they actually use up way too much water – precious water that has better use elsewhere. During off season (when there are no coffee cherries to harvest) the farm produces corn and beans: this means that the farm (and its employees!) stays active all year round and that also generates extra income.
Of course they also put their knowledge to good use in renovating and optimizing the production process. A small weather station on the finca provides real time reports on temperature and humidity which allows Ivan to adjust the natural process of drying the coffee cherries where necessary. Another future project is the renovation of the farm’s wet mill, once again to work on water efficiency.
Lastly, Ivan and Claudia also want to make a social difference in their community. The cherry pickers are all from nearby villages and every single one of them gets trained by Ivan to make sure they only pick the ripest cherries with the highest sugar content. During the high season the farm employs up to 70 cherry pickers! The future opening of the guesthouse on the finca will also contribute to job creation for the community. The finca also provides the surrounding villages with water.
Cross Roast is very proud of this valuable partnership with Finca El Penon. Ivan and Claudia’s story is educational and inspiring, and that is why Cross Roast chose them to work together on a unique chocolate. The El Penon coffee beans are processed with 65% fine flavor cocoa beans: a specialty taste explosion! The result is an intense, rich chocolate with notes of dried fruit and molasses.
Want to know more? Come visit our Cross Roast Experience Store in Antwerp and discover this unique coffee and chocolate!