Guatemala – Buena Esperanza

Sensually wonderful new micro-lot coffee from northwest Guatemala
Ari Weinzweig, CEO & Co-Founder of Zingerman’s 

guatemalan coffee

Back in the ‘60s, Scott McKenzie sang the famous song: “If you’re going to San Francisco, Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair; If you’re going to San Francisco, You’re gonna meet some gentle people there.” He was talking about San Francisco, California of course. But he could have written it about San Francisco, the small town in northwest Guatemala, not far from the farm where this fabulous Buena Esperanza coffee is grown. The gentle spirit of the song, the focus on beauty and love, care and compassion, all come together in this very compelling micro-lot coffee that’s just arrived. Pretty much every staffer at the Coffee Company is all abuzz about it. And, now, I am as well. I’m betting you will be, too!

The coffee comes to us from a woman I’ve yet to meet, Noe Castillo. The beans are grown on her family’s small, 16-acre farm. It’s up in the remote mountains of northwest Guatemala.The region is one of the most diverse in the country, with a strong presence of Maya people—there are seven different Mayan dialects spoken in the area. Noe’s mother worked on the farm for 40 years; now her brothers all work there. The family clearly has a great work ethic and a commitment to quality. Because, with all due respect to Steve, Chris, Asa and everyone who roasts at the Coffee Company, not even an alchemist could turn only average raw material into an amazing coffee like this.

Grown under shade trees at about 1900 meters (altitude contributes to complexity of flavor), the beans are “washed” to remove the pulp, which enhances some of its soft mellowness. I’ve heard flavor descriptors for Buena Esperanza like sweet iced tea, green grapes, brown sugar, brown butter, honeydew melon, golden currants, and raisins. It’s definitely juicy, silky soft, floral…This flavor is this one is almost the opposite of the Domenica Fiore olive oil. Whereas the latter has edge and gets right up—elegantly, I should say—in your face, the Guatemala Buena Esperanza is a gentle, soft, sensuous, subtle set of flavors that remind me of freshly made cinnamon toast. A cup of the Buena Esperanza—I like it brewed as a pour over—would make a wonderful accompaniment to one of those Toni rolls from the Bakehouse (sourdough, studded with chunks of dark chocolate).

Buena Esperanza means “good hope.” It’s well named. Both for the quality of the growing, the roasting, and care that the Castillo family commit. It’s a sign of positive hope for a healthy, collaborative, ecologically sound future. As anarchist Peter Kropotkin once said, “it is always hope…which makes revolutions.” Here’s to calm, caring, collaborative times to come.


Excerpt from Ari’s weekly Top 5 E-Newsletter. To stay in-the-know about things that Ari is excited about in the Zingerman’s family, sign up here