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Should we let the Guatemalan coffee trees die?

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

It was 2017 on a cold November night at Glasgow, Scotland. I received a call from my dad (with whom I speak regularly) we were exchanging news and events of what had happened in our daily life. He then told me that a close friend of his was thinking of not harvesting his coffee plantation and letting the trees die.

What?! Die?! It is 2017 for god sake, what do you mean he is thinking of not harvesting his Guatemalan coffee plantation? Coffee harvest in Guatemala takes place between late November to early April. My dad elaborated and told me that his friend did some basic calculation and realised that it was not worth the hassle to employ people (which come from the highlands of Guatemala) for the current price of the coffee, it was not profitable.

Ripe coffee cherries
Guatemalan Coffee Tree, Palencia

The news hit me harder than I expected. I was born and raised in Guatemala. I grew up hearing phrases like "we hold one of the best coffees in the world", "the quality of the coffee is remarkable". It did not make any sense. If it is one of the best coffees in the world, in such a beautiful country like Guatemala, why let the coffee trees die?

The friend of my dad is a businessman, he holds several businesses (gasoline being his top priority). At the end of the day, two plus two should equal four. If he was going to spend more money than what he would get for the coffee, business-wise, makes sense not to harvest. But what about coffee-wise? I bet there would have been people willing to pay more money for such an excellent and unique product.

Which brings me here, April of 2019. I have a profound love for Scotland. I came for the first time in 2015 and Scotland has treated me delightful. Friendly people, astonishing landscapes, rich old traditions and Edinburgh, oh Edinburgh! I have lived in Glasgow for two years now, and I am not planning to go anywhere soon. I have even developed a taste for haggis! (which none of my central american friends understands) Through the past years, I have met several coffee roasters in the area, all fantastic people with such a passion and love for coffee!

Scottish landscape
Isle of Skye, Scotland

This event made me realise that some regions are willing to enjoy and pay a fair price for these products. That is why I decided to bring both regions closer, in my way and possibilities, I was going to bring countries from the Caribbean Region closer to the United Kingdom. I know, it is an ambitious dream, but my love for both regions is my motivation not to give up.

This blog will contain information about the coffee industry between Guatemala and the United Kingdom. I will provide, as accurate as possible, events that have happened and are currently occurring in the industry. One of the main points of the blog is to generate awareness. Coffee is a commodity that represents far more than just a dark beverage. There are millions of people that depend on its production, and a sustainable coffee source is needed these days. A personalised and healthy relationship with farmers goes beyond an extra line in the sales pitch. If we want to enjoy and exploit the quality of the intriguing black beverage we call coffee, we all have to work together to preserve it.

Coffee trees at Fraijanes Guatemala.
My trip to Finca Rabanales, Guatemala.

J. E. Gutierrez Abril

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