Region: San José Poaquil, Chimaltenango
Altitude (masl): 1500-1900
Wet/dry mill: Bella Vista
Coffee Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, Catuaí
Shade: Mixed Owner: Small producers
Managed by: Small producers
Harvest season: December – April
Flower Season: May
About Los Santos
This year’s biggest surprise while making lots selections in Antigua came from a slightly different area and has a different story than most of the coffees coming from here. San José Poaquil is located to the northwest of Antigua and Guatemala City. It is mainly an indigenous population, where the inhabitants speak the Kaqchikel dialect, and is thus composed mainly of small coffee producers.
Los Santos is the name of a blend of coffees coming from farms in Chimaltenango, where the cherries are processed. This coffee is sold to Bella Vista from two “middlemen” who buy cherries/pulped cherries from the smallholders of San José Poaquil. These individuals have been working with Bella Vista for some time and thus understand the quality expectations of the mill. Bella Vista handles the sorting and packaging of Los Santos coffee.
Because this lot is not considered a microlot in the ordinary sense of the term, it is sold at a lower price than when we buy from individual farmers. However, this coffee scored between 86-87.5 points and we cupped over 25 day lots to choose the one we brought in.
About Bella Vista & Zelcafé
Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora (LPZZ) is the fourth generation in his family to be working in the coffee business. The Zelaya family’s first farm was Carmona, followed by Bella Vista, which where the wet, dry mill facilities, and Zelcafé staff offices were later built and are currently located.
For many years, the family’s business focus was on commercial coffee production and export but in 2000, LPZZ began developing and changing Zelcafé’s focus into specialty coffee/microlots, with the support of some early clients. Over time Zelcafé has been able to successfully transition the business into solely focusing on specialty coffee. For the Zelaya family, their coffee endeavours are not only about business; their aim is to provide a good basis for generations of their family and community to come. With this in mind, they are constantly looking for ways to provide jobs to as many families in their communities as possible, as well as supplying the best quality coffee they can to their clients.
Partnerships & Services
The family has worked with small producers in Antigua since they first started coffee farming. New relationships almost always come from introductions from families already working with the Zelaya family, ensuring close and stable partnerships. In addition to buying cherries from farms, Bella Vista also manages estate farms that owners don't want to sell but don't know how manage themselves.
The Bella Vista team take care of all the planning, execution and monitoring of the resources each farm they own or manage have: human, technical, financial, and knowledge/training. In the case of the small producers that they buy cherries from, the team not only buy cherries at a premium, they also provide technical assistance and the financing of inputs. Bella Vista is constantly looking to improve its agricultural activities to reduce chemicals to a minimum and in turn share their scientific knowledge with other farms.
Sustainability & the Future
Bella Vista continuously encourages its workers to get proper education and in special cases, finances education for some of them. The facility also often offers workshops on different topics. The Zelaya family farms all have C.A.F.E Practices implemented and in the coming years the family will try to implement a WaSH project at one of their biggest farms.
Other future plans include research on water treatment and the building of treatment plants and hopefully, the construction of another greenhouse.