Century-old Volcano-Nourished Coffee Farm Builds the Friendship Between Taiwan and Guatemala

Guatemalan coffee is no stranger to many coffee lovers in Taiwan. In fact, Guatemala coffee accounts for 11% of Taiwan’s coffee imports, making it Taiwan’s 6th-largest coffee importer. After the FTA came into effect, Guatemala coffee, which was originally exported to Europe and the United States, became important in Taiwan-Guatemala relations. Coffee farms also pay more attention to the trade relationship with Taiwan, and vigorously promote high-quality coffee beans with special flavors which appeal to Taiwanese consumers.

Fraijanes, located on the outskirts of the capital Guatemala, is one of the origins of Guatemala’s world-famous coffee beans. “We have the best beans in Guatemala!” At the end of the video, José Nieves González, the owner of the Finca Villa Arminda farm, smiled and pointed to the awards on the cupboard that to be full of them. It is a guarantee of excellent flavor.

José’s family has been growing coffee since the 19th century. Nearly 150 years of history and heritage are now carried by him as the 5th generation. Since 2015, José began to work hard to improve varieties, planting more than 20 different coffee beans on the farm, and winning regional coffee competition awards for 3 years in row. In addition, he cooperates with local exporters to export beans to international markets such as Europe, the US, Japan, Taiwan and so on.

As the 5th generation of the coffee farm, José and his family devote themselves into coffee production.

So what’s special about the coffee beans of their farm? Located between 1,400 and 1,700 meters above sea level, Fraijanes is home to the active volcano, Volcán de Pacaya. This volcano that just experienced an eruption in April 2021 is the most active volcano in Guatemala. It brings rich minerals to the local soil, and the abundant moisture brought by the surrounding mountain lakes gives Finca Villa Arminda the unique natural conditions to cultivate coffee beans.

Whether it is Pacamara, a variation of the classic Arabica coffee bean, or Geisha, which originated from Ethiopia and later flourished in Central America, it is still quite rare, and it has hazelnuts and caramel flavor after being exposured to the sun. The aroma, sweetness and sournness of Borbon Naranja can be tasted in José’s farm.

“If we want to enter the higher-quality international market, we can’t just plant a single species, but we must cultivate more different types and flavors of high-quality coffee beans,” José emphasized. Especially in the harvest period from December to March of each year, they need to hire many harvesters, because they have to pick out the ripe coffee fruits in order to roast high-quality beans.

However, even if the farm has a history of one and a half centuries, it still encounters great difficulties during the COVID-19 epidemic. “The situation last year (2020) was miserable. Affected by the epidemic, the harvesters could not come to work on the farms, and we could not find an international export market. In the end, many coffee plants just went bad like this.” This year (2021), they will continue to develop different markets and showing a keen interest in marketing their products to the public in Taiwan.

José’s 10-year-old daughter has been learning Madarin, which symbolizes the friendship with Taiwan will continue along with the inheritance of the coffee farm.

“Taiwan is our very important export partner,” José said as he called the 10-year-old girl to the front of the camera. “This is our 6th generation. She is already learning Mandarin now! We hope that in the future she will have the opportunity to get in touch with more Taiwanese buyers.”

The little girl looked very shy, holding her hands tightly together, but still smiled and said “hello”. Perhaps shortly, she will also be able to become a bridge between Taiwan and Guatemala, using sun-baked beans that exude a strong fruity aroma to make a cup of delicious coffee that symbolizes transnational friendship.

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