Huehuetenango, as we all know, is an incubator of fine coffee farms, including many Cup of Excellence winners. One such internationally-renown farm is Finca La Bolsa, in La Libertad.
Close to the most western border with Mexico and the Pan-American Highway, La Libertad has the high altitude, plentiful rainfall, lush shade and moderate temperatures needed to grow exceptional coffee.
Combine the best natural conditions on the farm and exacting skill in picking and processing coffee, and we have, what should be, one of the best coffees to come out of Guatemala this year.
María Elena Vides de Ovalle and her son Renardo Ovalle own and manage the farm respectively. María Elena’s father—Dr. Jorge Vides—started to grow coffee at La Bolsa in 1958 and was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Coffee Grower award from ANACAFE (the Guatemalan national coffee association) in 1984, just as the world was beginning to acknowledge the potential of great specialty coffee.
The name Terrazas, which in Spanish means “terraces,” is meant to indicate the particular section of land this coffee came from.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Guatemala La Bolsa Terrazas, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
farm: Finca La Bolsa
producer: Maria Elena Vides de Ovalle & Renardo Ovalle
elevation: 1400 – 1600 meters above sea level
varieties: Bourbon, Caturra
process: fully washed, patio dried
The Guatemala La Bolsa’s aroma is fragrant, delicate, and nuanced as it is very floral up front, with a faint push of nuttiness and spice coming up behind. It’s not an aroma that reaches out and grabs your attention, but it is very pleasant.
Diving into the first few sips of this coffee and my palate is presented with a nice mix of earthiness and spice as I’m getting really mellow flavors of cedar, earth, maple, cinnamon, and sage while those floral aromatics that were present in the aroma (particularly rose hips) show up again here.
As it begins to cool, this cup completely transforms as sweet fruits and syrupy molasses gush over the palate, completely enveloping my taste buds. Salted caramel and maple syrup lay down a thick foundation which in turn results in a “chewy” mouthfeel—that’s the best I can describe it (by it I mean that the coffee fills the mouth, and the texture is so thick and syrupy that almost I feel like I have to chew it). Despite that, though, this still somehow manages to be a very fruit-forward coffee; I’m especially picking out flavors of black cherry, cantaloupe, red delicious apple (with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and thick texture let’s call this tasting note “apple pie”), and a mild sprinkling of roasted walnut throughout the finish.
Medium body; “chewy” molasses mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
I’m going to go ahead and say it, just to get it out of the way: the Guatemala La Bolsa Terrazas, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters, is one of my favorite coffees of the year. It could very well be the fact that I drank it just as Fall kicks off and its flavor profile embodies everything I love in an autumnal beverage that makes me love it so, but the bottom line, indeed, is that this coffee is mighty tasty.
That medium level roast is enough to give it just the right amount of body, but Halfwit’s attention to highlighting acidity and high notes makes the Guatemala La Bolsa a really balanced cup while still being very flavorful and fruit-forward.
To me, this seems like a coffee that could be taken too far in either direction, but Halfwit really nailed it.
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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.