When I got an email from Velton Ross—the founder and proprietor of Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company in Everett, Washington—telling me that he wanted to send me some coffee to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Whenever I get a solicitation like that, particularly from small business owners, I react with equal amounts of trepidation and anticipation.
Being an ardent “shop local” and “support small business” believer, it devastates me every time I react to one of their coffees negatively. Even in the case of hating a small business’s coffee, I still want them to succeed financially.
Today’s sampling, the third and final package I received from Velton, promises to be just as great. It did, after all, win first place at the 2012 Guatemala Cup of Excellence.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup from a farm that is considered the crowned jewel of Guatemala—the Guatemala Finca El Injerto Pandora. Feel free to pull up a chair.
This December will mark the 5 year anniversary of Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company. Coincidentally, it will also mark the 5 year anniversary of Velton and his wife traveling to Guatemala to pick up a 5 month old baby girl that they were adopting. To celebrate these two life-changing personal experiences, Velton is offering what is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest coffees, which just so happens to also be from Guatemala: Pandora!
Finca El Injerto is the preeminent farm in western Guatemala, in Huehuetenango; it is one of, if not “the” most famed coffee farm in the country. The farm grows a number of varietals, or seed types, but is best known for its Pacamara, a cross between the Pacas from El Salvador and the Maragogype, an oversized bean native to Guatemala. This hybrid has the size and power of the large bean with the delicacy of the Pacas, itself a branch of Bourbon.
Since 1905, Finca El Injerto has produced exceptional coffee with a commitment to respecting and preserving the natural resources of the Huehuetenango region. Arturo Aguirre owns and operates the farm with his son, Arturo Jr. They run the farm with dedication to sustaining a coffee farming community and a meticulous approach to processing the highest quality coffee in Guatemala.
Mr. Jesus Aguirre Panama acquired the land in 1874 and planted corn, beans, tobacco, and sugarcane. In 1900, he planted coffee and named the farm Finca El Injerto after a native fruit that is similar to Zapote fruit and found only in this region. Three generations and over 100 years later, Finca El Injerto has 245 hectares planted with coffee: 70% Bourbon, with the remaining mixed between Catuai, Maragogype, Pacamara, and Tekisic varietals.
While the farm has a generous amount of land, two-thirds are a thousand year old virgin forest that surrounds and protects the coffee plantation, preserving the delicate micro-climate required to grow exquisite coffee. This is rough terrain and it takes about eight hours to travel here from Guatemala City, mostly because of difficult roads and steep, winding slopes.
The Aguirres protect the quality of the land through sustainable agricultural methods. They use coffee parchment for fuel in the mechanical dryers. Water used in wet milling is filtered in ponds before returning to the rivers to avoid pollution downstream.
Native species are replanted in reforestation efforts. They focus on the coffee plant’s tissue management system without the use of fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. Worm culture technology breaks down the coffee cherry skin to produce lombricompost which becomes a fertilizer at the nursery and the final plantings. Shade trees are planted throughout the farm to promote air circulation and control the amount of sunlight received by the plants.
Finca El Injerto also has many social projects which promote the well-being and health of the workers and their families.
origin: La Libertad, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
farm: Finca El Injerto
elevation: 1760-1830 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance
The aroma of this coffee is truly delightful, with notes of creamy butter, caramel, apple, and sage. This scents fold over and collapse into each other, eventually giving way to an impeccable flavor…
The first few sips of this coffee are a little too good. You know those coffee commercials on television, where the actor/actress smiles and gazes longingly into the distance? I’m that guy right now, sipping this coffee.
It starts off so sweet and creamy and perfectly suited for this time of year with huge flavors of salted caramel and juicy Macintosh apple. As it starts cooling off, the flavor gets more and more intense. Now I’m picking up even sweeter notes of pears, cranberries, apricots, baking spice, honey, citrus, and cane sugar. The cooler the cup gets, the more intense these flavors get, the sharper the clarity of the cup becomes, the rounder the cup gets.
Finally, at room temperature, an incredible red wine acidity emerges, and each sip ends with a long, deep, lingering finish.
Medium body; buttery mouthfeel; winy acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Guatemala Finca El Injerto Pandora, from Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company, really lived up to my expectations. Being a Guatemalan coffee—my favorite region, being this year’s Cup of Excellence winner, coming from Velton’s Coffee—it would have been just as heartbreaking as it was unlikely that I wouldn’t end up loving it.
Of course this was a tasty cup of coffee, of course it had great body and definition and clarity and blah blah blah, but you don’t need me to tell you that—the Cup of Excellence is a pretty reliable organization, after all. But the thing that I actually liked most about it was the experience of drinking it—not only was it the perfect breakfast coffee, but it was the perfect Autumn coffee. I really loved waking up early on crisp, breezy mornings and drinking a cup of this coffee while watching the leaves change color.
Definitely not a coffee to be missed.
Having said that, I feel that I need to also tell you that…
THIS IS A PRE-ORDER, SO PLEASE READ THE DETAILS BEFORE ORDERING:
Velton’s will be roasting this coffee on October 22nd and shipping it out via USPS Priority Mail on October 23rd.
Other coffees placed on the same order as the Pandora will also roast/ship at that time; if you are wanting these other coffees sooner please order separately.
No additional shipping will be added for the Pandora, but normal shipping rates will apply for all other coffees on the order.
Quantities are very limited… so act soon if interested!
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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.