Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
Owner: Rosa Maria Ovalle Mont
Altitude: 1,300 – 1,850 metres above sea level
Variety: Bourbon, Catuai
Processing: Fully Washed
Full-bodied with vibrant acidity and golden syrup sweetness. Citrus, florals and black tea.
About El Limonar (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants)
Finca El Limonar (which translates to ‘The Lemon Grove’) comprises 123 hectares of land near the Mexican border in Guatemala’s rich and mountainous Huehuetenango region. The farm was originally part of the famous Finca El Injerto, one of the first coffee farms in the region (and a Cup of Excellence winner on multiple occasions). It is also located very close to another one of our favourite coffee farms, La Maravilla.
Don Hugo Chavez Mendez, the farm’s founder, was one of the pioneers of coffee in ‘Huehue’. In 1955 he began replacing the regions high-grown corn fields with Bourbon coffee trees, many of which are still in production today.
The land was acquired in later years by Rogelio Aguirre Gálvez, whose passing saw El Limonar left as an inheritance to his son, Rogelio Aguirre Escobar. In 1980, after Don Rogelio passed away, management of El Limonar passed to his brother, Auturo, an agronomist (and the current owner, as well, of El Injerto) for a period until 1985, when the farm was passed back to Don Rogelio’s wife, Doña Rosa María Ovalle Mont. Doña Rosa’s goal has been to continue to expand the farm’s coffee plantations, building upon and improving the farm’s reputation for quality and consistency, under conditions that are environmentally sustainable.
Doña Rosa brought with her a vision of marrying coffee of the highest quality with increased productivity. At the time that she began to manage the farm, El Limonar was composed of only 40 manzanas (approximately 28 hectares) with an annual production of around 500 quintales of parchment. Doña Rosa expanded the area under coffee significantly, investing in renovation and planting new varieties in the interest of improving both quality and productivity. Under her leadership, the farm has reached its current size of over 140 hectares and, today, produces on average 2,500 quintales of parchment annually. Her efforts have led the farm to place in the Cup of Excellence program two years running.
Today, the farm is planted with Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai varietals, chosen to balance quality and yield. Every year the farm raises some 15,000 new seedlings in it nursery to replenish existing fields or to create new plantations. In the higher areas of the farm, native shade trees have been planted to provide the coffee with around 60% shade. All coffee grown in the farm has come from seeds selected from areas and trees on the farm displaying the best qualities and characteristics. Weather conditions and altitude are optimal for bean development and slow, even maturation, ensuring a sweeter and more complex profile in the cup.
All coffee at El Limonar is handpicked and delivered to the wet mill (onsite) to be pulped on the same day of picking. After being fermented for 14-16 hours, the coffee is washed and then rests in clean water for 24 hrs. After this, it is dried on patios for 8 to 10 days depending on weather (wind, temperature, humidity). During harvest peak, guardiolas are used to finish drying, in which case, patio time is only 2 days and then 30 hours in guardiola at a constantly regulated temperature.
Environmental stewardship has been a hallmark for Finca El Limonar since its inception. Because of its ecologically sensitive location in the midst of subtropical rainforest, Rosa Maria has made a serious commitment to land stewardship and preservation of species, and has earned regional and national awards for her ecological and social sustainability practices. The farm avoids using chemical herbicides where possible, and instead weeds are removed by hand using a machete. El Limonar has a wet mill on site, where treatment tanks are used to purify and recycle waste water, in order to avoid polluting the many local rivers and streams. Leftover coffee pulp is also recycled and used as a fertiliser for young plants.
El Limonar has placed in the Cup of Excellence in 2013 and 2014.