Guatemala is one of the richest nations in terms of renown quality with its coffee history dating back as early as 1747 with many attributing its introduction to the Jesuits around that time. Guatemalan coffee truly began taking its shape after 1856 when traditional indigo fell out of favor leading to coffee becoming a more favorable cash crop and export. In 1871 the efforts of the infamous Justo Rufino Barrios established coffee as the central product of the Guatemalan economy while exploiting indigenous peoples and seizing land for large scale coffee production. In just ten years coffee was ninety percent of nation’s exports.
While the 20th Century saw attempts at land reforms, instability led to a bitter Civil War lasting from 1960 to 1996 and the impact of that struggle continues to linger today. Saint Frank has friends with tragic stories of suffering from different sides of that conflict, one that like all conflicts requires patience, understanding, and reconciliation for healing and hope. Today we are honored to work with people and communities laboring toward a hopeful future and as in so many other cases in the world, we see coffee as being a great catalyst for connection, growth, and change.
Saint Frank works with the long-standing and highly regarded Zelaya coffee family in Antigua based beneath two towering volcanoes: Vulcan de Agua and Vulcan de Fuego. The Zelaya family has been growing classic Antigua coffees in such famous farms as Finca Carmona and Bella Vista (from which the well known coffee "Bella Carmona" is derived). Luis Pedro Zelaya Jr. manages several Antigua coffee estates and his family’s exporting business Zelcafe based at Beneficio Bella Vista just outside Antigua proper. Anyone who discusses Guatemala Specialty Coffee will invariably discuss Luis Pedro and the outstanding coffees and operations of Zelcafe, we are no exception. Luis Pedro and his team are some of the most hospitable and hard working people in the coffee community and it is a pleasure and an honor to call them partners and friends.
San Pedro Necta, Huehuetenango
Another region of Guatemala with incredible potential for quality has soaring high and steep mountains growing the complex coffees of Huehuetenango. While Antigua coffees can be known for their rich and bright qualities that reflect the heritage of the culture and land, the coffees of Huehuetenango can produce complex and fruited coffees of an altogether different profile that reflect the remote and exotic nature of the region.