One great mark of the specialty coffee industry is its appreciation and recognition for every artisan along the chain of coffee. Over the past decade, more attention has rightly been given to the people who work really hard to produce amazing coffees. It's also no wonder that coffee continues to get better and better!
The coffee cooperative, La San Pedrana, was established in 1957 but had not exported its coffee until 2017. Yepocapa Coffee, founded in 2015, acts as a voice for La San Pedrana - helping the co-op establish relationships within the industry and exporting their coffee to the U.S.
When we asked what producer Don Milo had to say of La San Pedrana's first natural process coffee, he said he was nervous while producing it. Naturals can be tricky and can easily be messed up. He knew that if produced well, it'd be a special coffee that would reflect the cooperative as a whole. After all, La San Pedrana had never produced a natural coffee until this year and naturals tend to be remembered for their wild and unique qualities.
The finished product met hopes and exceeded expectations to say the least, but this crop means much more to the co-op than just being a great natural processed coffee. Here's what Yepocapa Coffee founder, Ryan Chipman, had to say:
"This lot is the first lot ever of a Natural Processed coffee coming out of Yepocapa, Guatemala. Truthfully, we had really low expectations for this coffee since it was our first year's attempt at a natural but after we cupped it, we were really shocked! It's cupping really nicely with some wonderful deep notes of blackberry and light strawberry. More importantly though, this coffee stands for innovation. It stands for a new era of excellence where the farmers of Yepocapa want to see their coffees continue to be evaluated and developed so that one day they can enter a coffee into the Cup of Excellence as a cooperative of small plot coffee farmers from Yepocapa, Guatemala!"
A new era of excellence and innovation began in 2015 for La San Pedrana, however. After 48 years of existence, the co-op finally received its export license and in 2017 began to ship coffee to U.S. roasters. Selling coffee directly to roasters instead of through the commodity market gives farmers an incentive for producing better quality coffee to earn more money for their hard work. Cutting out the "middle-men" also means more of that money goes directly to them and their farms, thus providing a better life and more opportunities for growth.
Eight bags of coffee is a small amount, but what this natural lot means to the co-op is enormous. It's a step in a bold, new direction for sure. But let's talk about how impressive the coffee is!
When we opened the first bag of raw, green coffee, it smelled so distinct - very much like apples! In the cup we notice immediately the coffee's depth, it's wild and approachable at the same time! It hits the high punches that remind us of blackberries, blueberries, and oranges, but it's rounded out with some deep toffee and cocoa-like flavors. Like most naturals, it's a little rough around the edges and has a mouthfeel and finish similar to walnuts.
To Don Milo, Ryan Chipman, La San Pedrana, and Yepocapa Coffee - thank you and congratulations! We are so impressed with this coffee and so inspired by your movement toward excellence. Here's to many more years partnering together!