Guatemala Finca El Pilar is located in the mountainous forests just outside Antigua. While it is a working coffee farm, most of the land is dedicated to conservation activities. This remarkably well-preserved natural reserve of endemic forest and wildlife is home to more than 130 species of birds. They are most well known for their hummingbirds; thriving thanks to a specially designed garden complete with feeders created especially for them.
You must cross a wooden footbridge to enter Finca El Pilar; from there you traverse the infrastructure of rock and wooden paths all the way up to the cloud forest. To say this coffee is shade grown using bird friendly native trees would be an understatement. In fact, you can still find coffee growing wild among the pine and oak trees.
Finca El Pilar is a small paradise located in the mountain forests of Guatemala. Although it is a working coffee farm, only a small area is given over to production, with the rest being dedicated to conservation activities. It has an infrastructure of trails for bird watching, which spread through the farms coffee plantations as well as the mountain and cloud forest, pine and oaks. One of the main attractions on El Pilar farm is in the zone of hummingbird’s feeders where it is possible to spot a wide variety of species that inhabit the area. The farm is part of the Antigua Guatemala Important Bird Area
The farm prizes both conservation and ecotourism. While they’re setting aside pristine mountain habitat for wildlife, they also contribute to the community including providing it with clean water.
Although El Pilar is under the management category of a farm, it is dedicated more to conservation activities than production, with the exception of a small area of organic coffee. El Pilar also provides water to the nearby communities, and you will find there Cloud and Mountain Forest, with a large diversity of birds. An additional attribute is the nine hummingbird feeders, which make it possible to see as many as seven different species feeding at the same time.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Guatemala Finca El Pilar, from Craft Coffee in Brooklyn, New York. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: San Juan Sacatepequez, Atitlan, Guatemala
farm: Finca El Pilar
producer: Juan Carlos Chen
elevation: 1500 – 1900 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Bourbon, Typica
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Organic, Antigua Guatemala Important Bird Area
The aroma of this Guatemala Finca El Pilar is very minimal, very subdued. There’s really not much happening – a bit of red fruit and sugars, but not much beyond that.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I regret to report that the taste follows the nose. This coffee is not over-roasted in the sense that it’s burnt or ashy or smoky… But it’s definitely baked. I can taste the caramelized sugars and red berries that I noted in the aroma, but it all tastes a bit cooked.
As the cup cools off, it’s just more of the same. What a bummer. I can taste all the goodness that this coffee possesses, but it just can’t break through the malaise of bake. This cup could be, not necessarily bright and lively, but juicy and vibrant at the least. It has all the flavors: cherry, strawberry, citrus acidity… It just tastes dull, muffled, and muted. Pity.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
For the third straight month, Craft Coffee has inserted itself into their monthly subscription box and, for the third straight month, they did so with a less-than-spectacular coffee. It’s seeming more and more that Craft will be a permanent fixture in their own boxes from now on – which, to me, is a really bad decision – so we better just get used to it. It’s time we to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.
Their Guatemala Finca El Pilar, I’m sure, would have been a fine coffee; in fact, I’m sure it would have been pretty tasty. Through the haze of its roast profile, there were some faint signs of life in the cup – red fruits, a bit of a citrus, caramel… But the coffee was just too baked out for any of those flavors to come through. I’m no roaster, so I really can’t speak to what went wrong in the drum, but to me the coffee didn’t taste over-roasted – it tasted overcooked.
I am truly disappointed in the coffees Craft has been producing, but not nearly as much as I’m annoyed by them.
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.