The region of Ayarza, Guatemala is a special one, landmarked by a drastic landscape and the cold blue water from the Laguna Azul. The lake was formed by two massive volcanoes that collapsed and formed a large crater, also known as a caldera. The legends surrounding Laguna Azul are numerous and the bottom has never been found.
With high elevation, volcanic soil and distinctive seasons, this region has great potential to produce incredible quality coffees. The Ayarza wet mill was started in 2017, to purchase and process coffees from small producers who were not able to process their coffees on their own. The mill purchases coffee fruits from local growers, with strict quality standards in place. The mill will pay more for higher quality coffee, so there is an incentive to take extra care in picking coffee. Once the coffee fruits are purchased from each individual grower, the coffee is floated, and sorted to remove any defective coffee. Once initial sorting is complete, the coffee is depulped, fermented for 14 hours and washed. Coffee is then dried on patios around the mill for 3-7 days depending on the weather. When the coffee is dried, it passes through another battery of hulling and sorting to ensure the minimal amount of defects possible in the coffee. This lot of coffee is classified as SHB, strictly hard bean, and has a very consistent size to ensure even development throughout the roast.
Francisco Nájera is one of many local producers who use the Ayarza mill. Francisco was born in El Naranjo, in the Jutiapa department of Guatemala. He is 32 years old, and has been working in coffee production for over half of his life. Francisco tends to various small plots covering just under 1ha in total. He is classified as a small producer, and has excelled in the coffee production business despite the difficulties in production caused by uncertain weather conditions and pests. . He also dedicates part of his time to developing his coffee tree nursery, selling saplings to other farmers in the region.