Arturo Aguirre Sr. and Jr.
This father and son team grows, processes and educates at the best coffee-growing operation in Guatemala and one of the top five in the world.
Partnered with Stumptown
Bourbon, Pacamara and Gesha
This year, El Injerto became the first Guatemalan farm to obtain carbon neutral certification, raising the bar for the industry once again.
The Aguirres set the bar in the world of coffee.
We could talk for hours about what they’ve done for their community — building schools, clinics, safe worker housing, a tortilla factory to make sure everyone is fed, a micro-hydropower plant that powers not only the farm but the nearby village.
Year after year, we come to them for their impeccably balanced, complex coffee that hits on every level.
El Injerto is a seven-hour drive from Guatemala City, a bumpy, curvy van ride up over the mountains and down into a lush canyon. From the farm, you can see the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range in Mexico.
From the seasonal pickers all the way up to Arturo Sr., everyone at El Injerto is focused on obsessively making the best coffee possible.
Every day, they cup with their entire processing team, many of whom used to be pickers and have worked their way up through the organization. They’ll have mini-competitions with blind taste tests so see who’s making the best coffee.
They also educate nearby farmers and the coffee world as a whole on sustainability, community engagement and the sense of what great coffee can be. Year after year, El Injerto wins Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence award.
The relationship between Stumptown and Finca El Injerto is one of our strongest and longest. Arturo Aguirre, a 3rd generation coffee farmer, 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. The efforts of the Aguirre family, combined with our own, have improved the coffee year after year.
Mr. Jesus Aguirre Panama acquired the land in 1874 and planted corn, beans, tobacco, and sugarcane. Around 1900, he planted coffee and named the farm ‘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, El Injerto has 245 hectares planted with coffee: 70% Bourbon, with the remaining mixed between Catuai, Maragogype, Pacamara, Tekisic, Mocca and Gesha varieties.
Arturo Jr. is working on some new projects which will greatly improve fermentation including building an additional fermentation tank, finishing tiling the entire washing area and tiling all of the tanks. Arturo Jr. conveys a huge sense of pride about their social programs. The family built new housing for their year round workers with the funds from their auction. Eight of the ten families received new homes. They built a new clinic, maintenance room and four newly installed showers and bathrooms for workers. The clinic has been a mainstay at El Injerto for years with a physician who visits every 15 days from the nearby town of La Democracia. They built a playground and nursery for the pickers’ kids, which will enable the pickers to have their children supervised and provide activities during harvest. Injerto also pays twice the hourly wage as their neighbors. An expectation of higher scrutiny in all things concerned with harvesting and processing comes with the higher wage. Some workers have found it too demanding, but this is what sets Injerto apart.
Since 1905, Finca El Injerto has produced exceptional coffee with a commitment to respecting and preserving the natural resources of the Huehuetenango region. More than half of Finca El Injerto is a thousand year old virgin forest that surrounds and protects the coffee plantation, preserving the delicate micro-climate required to grow exquisite Arabica coffee.
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. They manage weeds strictly by machete. In order to assess the appropriate nutritional supplements for the plants, soil and leaf analysis takes place annually. 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. El Injerto also has many social projects which promote the well-being and health of the workers and their families.
Arturo Sr. and Jr. ensure perfect cherry selection and utilize cherry flotation to sort by density. Disc depulpers remove the cherry prior to extended fermentation which can last up to 72 hours due to the cold typical of this altitude. In 2013, they installed a pre-pulp separator to further minimize pulp contamination during fermentation. The coffee is then double washed and soaked. Patio pre-drying prepares the beans for a final low temperature drum drying. In order to better understand the coffee and all the nuances within their production, they have a cupping lab at the farm with four trained cuppers.
The Aguirre’s named the section of their farm where they cultivate Pacamara ‘Pandora’s Block’. This block nourishes a sweet, balanced and floral variety. Pacamara, a hybrid of Pacas and Maragogype, creates a perfect marriage of Bourbon and Typica. Arturo Aguirre Sr. purchased their first Pacamara seeds from El Salvador where the variety originated. Pandora’s Block consists of a mixture of old and new plants, averaging 18 years old. They renovate annually to maintain plant age diversity.
Three years ago, a hail storm swept through Huehuetenango and devastated half of the Aguirre’s Pacamara plants. The plants can take years to recover. Happily, this year, their production finally reached full volume.
After meticulously picking ripe cherry, they depulp it, dry ferment for 18-24 hours, and soak it for 24 hours in clean water. They dry this lot strictly on tiered raised beds.
La Calaca – Gesha
Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson brought Gesha seeds to Arturo Aguirre Jr. years ago. Later in the same year, Arturo Sr. traveled to Hacienda La Esmeralda in Panama and brought some more seeds directly from the Petersons.
The Gesha seeds were planted in 2008 in a region of the farm with a high shade canopy called La Calaca. La Calaca translates as ‘the skull’. According to the people of the village, this area in the northwest part of the farm used to be where witches of the towns held rituals. They have even found animal skulls to offer as proof of their story. Seven different varieties are cultivated on the 12 hectare area of La Calaca. Workers on the farm believe they have transformed the rituals of those long ago witches into a good spell. They believe the coffee cultivated here will bewitch any who dares to drink it.
The staff at El Injerto is learning about the nuances of Gesha by constantly checking the crop throughout the growing season to see how it behaves and reacts within the microclimate in order to make important decisions about the tissue management. Each variety reacts differently from climate to climate, so it takes education, observation, and detailed management in order to perfect a particular variety.
The tiny lot of Gesha was treated with utmost care and detail. The Aguirre’s sent their finest pickers to select these cherry at the height of the harvest season. After depulping, this lot was dry fermented for 18-24 hours in perfectly clean conditions, moving the beans after each stage for uniform fermentation. The lot was then washed and soaked for 24 hours then dried on tiered, raised drying beds. They sorted this lot by hand twice, once during the parchment stage and then again just prior to export at the green bean stage.
In 2014, the Aguirres built a micro hydroelectric power plant which provides electricity for the farm, mill and all of the housing (which includes workers’ housing). They purchased and distributed over 50 safer and more efficient gas cooking stoves to replace the less healthy wood stoves in their workers’ homes. They also continue to provide free food for all of their workers from their onsite tortilla factory. The Aguirre family plans to plant more Gesha. This year the Gesha dried on raised beds for the first time, rather than on patios.