Guatemala Santa Isabel Amargo

Raspberry and rooibios tea with orange blossom and milk chocolate.

€9.50 Sale
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Finca Santa Isabel


Caturra & Villa Sarchi


Tasting notes
Raspberry and rooibios tea with orange blossom and milk chocolate.

Luis “Wicho” Valdés III is the third-generation producer of Finca Santa Isabel and Finca San Lorenzo. 

Located among the rolling hills of the San Cristobal town in the department of Alta Verapaz in the Cobán region of Guatemala, Wicho cultivates and processes one of Guatemala’s most sought-after coffees. Cobán is a coffee growing region characterized by its humid weather and constant rainfall all throughout the year, with an intense rainy season and a light ‘chipi chipi’ rainy season. In this cloud forested farm, located 1400-1500 meters above sea level, grows: Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon, Sachimor, Obata, and Tupí among other experimental and imported varieties. 

Luis Valdés I, Wicho’s grandfather, purchased the plot of land now known as Santa Isabel in the 1960s. The initial 10.5 hectares that made-up Santa Isabel, now span over 70 hectares of coffee growing land. Wicho’s first memories in coffee consisted of visiting his grandfather at Santa Isabel when he was 10 years old, where he grew coffee and sugarcane. Luis Valdés II took over the farm in the 1980s. At that time he also purchased Finca San Lorenzo, shifting the focus of cultivation solely to coffee and the preservation of the natural forest. Wicho began making weekly visits to learn everything he could about producing coffee while studying agricultural engineering in university and graduating in 1999. For the past twenty years, Wicho has been producing quality specialty coffee on both of his farms, Santa Isabel and San Lorenzo. Wicho also processes the coffee at Santa Isabel’s mill, which has been in his family since 1985. He uses various methods of drying to adjust to the unpredictable rainy climate of Cobán. Around 600 locals are employed on Finca Santa Isabel and San Lorenzo. All of the employees are from the towns of San Cristobal, Cobán or the surrounding small communities. The managerial style and planning for each harvest along with the hard work of everyone on the farms, lends to a unique sustainable specialty coffee we can enjoy for years to come.  Santa Isabel and San Lorenzo combined are 162 hectares consisting of various coffee varieties, natural forest, a wet mill, drying patio and machine driers

Santa Isabel has been in the Valdés family since 1962. Santa Isabel, along with San Lorenzo, produces around 70 hectares of Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon, Sachimore, Obata, and Tupí among its many hills, mountains, and plains. A few miles away from Finca Santa Isabel, separated by a mountain, is Finca San Lorenzo. This farm was purchased by Wicho’s father in the eighties, and it grows the same varieties and shares the same topography as Finca Santa Isabel. Between these farms there is one manager and several auxiliary managers that help oversee the production of each lot. Every year, there are also 50 farmers working on the spectacular cultivation and processing of the farm’s coffee. During the harvest season (from November to April), 500 harvesters work the farms choosing perfectly mature cherries from the millions of plants among the two farms. Wicho’s coffee is planted in terraces on the steep areas of the farm, to allow heavy rains to drain and to prevent soil degradation. They maintain the correct spacing between each plant as well as appropriate shade use (dependent on the varietal) which allows the coffee plants to maximize the use of nutrients from the soil and sun. Wicho sends samples of the foliage which provides nutrients to the soil, to be analysed twice a year in order to gather information about the nutrition levels and any possible diseases they may contain. He applies organic matter to the soil in the form of coffee pulp and worm cultured soil.

Due to the climate characterized by the constant rainfall, locally called ‘chipi chipi’, and the light mist that coats Cobán, Wicho uses multiple techniques for drying his coffee. All of these techniques produce a high-quality coffee with its own exceptional characteristics.  Wicho has been working with Los Volcanes Coffee for ten years. Wicho Valdés is more than just another coffee producer, he is part of the integral part of the family. He is Los Volcanes’ base of operations in the Cobán coffee region, and he represents the most important source of information on production, processing, and everything coffee related within this region. Because of the detailed working style on his farm, Wicho provides a wealth of information that LVC can use to help other producers from Cobán. Wicho initially came to us for assistance in finding a more profitable marketplace for his farm’s production. Wicho processes his own coffee to parchment at his mill and drying patio located in Santa Isabel. This parchment is then sent to LVC to be cupped, scored, and profiled. The various lots are organized by profile and then blended together to create offers that go out to coffee buyers around the world. The LVC lab, led by Carolina Franco, cups and evaluates the lots sent from Santa Isabel. Through this process, the lab assigns Finca La Bolsa was bought by Jorge Vides, a distinguished medical professional, in 1958.