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Guatemala - Huehuetenango - FTO - COMAL

September 23, 2009

This coffee was roasted in a PID'd Sirocco "fluid bed" hot air roaster and was cupped blind against other coffees including a control sample. After cupping, it was tasted as a brewed coffee and espresso extraction. For more information on my sample roaster and method, see our reference page.


Guatemala has long been known for the high quality of its coffees. These coffees are generally thought to be among Central America's best - high-grown, hard-beaned, the brew, clear and intense, complex, acidic and aromatic. But some coffee lovers may not realize that there are 8 different regions in Guatemala, each with micro-regions and each of those growing coffees with distinctive personalities. The major regions are Acatenango Valley, Antigua, Atitlán, Cobán, Fraijanes Plateau, Huehuetenango, New Oriente and San Marcos. Of the three coffees being reviewed in this installment, two are from Huehue(tenango) and one is from the area west of Lake Atitlan. All three are distinct but at the same time recognizable as Guatemalan.

They do, however, have one thing in common; all three are organic-certified and grown by Mayan farmers practicing traditional techniques (terracing, composting, conservation methods, etc.). These coffees are marketed in the U.S. by Maya Earth Coffee, an organization that maintains a direct link with these groups of farmers and communities, and donates 10% back to the farmers in Guatemala and/or to not-for-profit organizations here in the U.S.


This coffee comes from the 50-year-old Cooperativa Comercializadora Maya Alternativa, COMAL (Mayan Alternative Commercial Cooperative) whose members number about 170 coffee farmers of the Mam ethnic group, and who are located in the Sierra Madre del Occidente, Huehuetenango. Some of this super SHB coffee was grown at altitudes as high as 6000 feet.

The coffee is Huehue at its best, clean and classic with sweet and spicy dry fragrances from the grinder, wet aromatics full of chocolate malt and all of this confirmed in the cup. The coffee has a slight apple/citrus edge that becomes more prominent with cooling and, along with chocolate, caramel and something akin to roasted corn, this combination presents us with a very complex cup.

It's medium-bodied, a little fuller than some Huehue's, and has a medium-long, very pleasant finish. It held up well to a range of roast levels from light (for cupping) to full city (pulled just as the outliers of second crack begins). It will do well in nearly any preparation.

Dry Fragrance: 4.3
Wet Aroma: 4.4
Flavor: 7.8
Finish: 7.7
Acidity: 7.7
Body: 7.7
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.6

  • Lighter Roasts: Spiced apples and chocolate. Needs several days rest.
  • Darker Roasts: Does well up to the start of 2nd crack with malty-chocolate notes combining with the fruit. Makes a superb siphon-style brewed cup.
  • As Espresso: Does surprisingly well - especially as a cappuccino.


UPDATED: September 30, 2009