Farm: San Jerónimo Miramar Producer: The Bressani Family Country: Guatemala Region: Atitlan Elevation: 1,500–1,700 masl Variety: Catuaí Processing: Honey Sourced Through: Coffee Bird ---
At the turn of the century, (1880s) Mr Bressani moved from Parma, Italy to the US in search of work and a better life. He left his pregnant wife behind. When he arrived to the United States he met with the only banker who provided loans to immigrants. This man was the future founder of Bank of America. Whilst he couldn’t help Mr Bressani, he found him work building the tunnels for the railroad in Guatemala, which is how Mr Bressani moved to Guatemala.
In the 1940s, Mr Bressani began to manage a farm, called San Jerónimo Miramar, which was located between Patulul and San Lucas Tolimán. At the time, the farm was owned by a German Jewish man. Shortly after, Guatemala declared war on Germany. Guatemala expropriated land away from all Germans and began to send them either back to Germany or to internment camps in Texas.
The owner of the SJM approached Giorgio’s great-grandfather to see if he would buy the land from him. He replied that he couldn’t afford it. Once the neighbour’s farm was expropriated, the owner of SJM approached the grandfather again and said “I’m going to give you an offer you can’t refuse.” “Give me the profits from the coffee for the next 5 years, and the farm is yours.” Mr Bressani accepted. With all the earnings from the coffee going to pay off the farm, Mr Bressani bought a few cows, and sold milk locally.
However, in the 1950’s, the US government donated powdered milk to Guatemala, and all dairy farmers went out of business over night. Fortunately, due to Mr Bressani’s Italian origins, his cousin knew how to make cheese. Whilst at times the dairy operation has subsidised the coffee activities, the coffee provides work for 500 families. It is with this job creation in mind that San Jerónimo Miramar desires to make coffee a profitable activity, to support the local families.
There are so many layers to the San Jerónimo Miramar (SJM) story. Behind this beautiful family and coffee lie the creators of the up-cycled denim bag that Coffee Bird adopted. They have a passion for nature, the farm, and a priority to preserve the integrity of the soil. Behind this passion is a deep rooted love for each other, the land and the people that make it happen.
The primary activity of the farm is dairy, and coffee production has been subsidised by the dairy operations. For years, the farm sold into a local exporter and depended on the C-market. Their venture into specialty coffee began in 2014, after leaving a meeting with a local exporter, who had delivered devastating news of lower prices. After seeing the face of disappointment on his dad’s face, Giorgio convinced his dad not to sell the coffee to this exporter, and promised him they would find another way. Meanwhile his sister, Gina, was in university in the US. She approached a local roaster in town with a sample. The roaster loved the coffee, and agreed to buy it. This was their gateway into specialty. By applying their high level of detailed record keeping and controls from the dairy operation, they quickly optimised their quality. They are constantly adjusting and listening to what nature tells them, and adapting accordingly. Mr Arnoldo is responsible for the coffee operations.
At Finca Vizcaya coffee cherries are deliberately selected and picked under a strict brix (sugar content) parameter, after which they are fermented for 72 hrs in a tank with Lalcafe INTENSO wine yeast. A pH meter is used to maintain a target acidity that selects for the yeast and bacteria predicted to produce the most interesting flavour profile.
After fermentation is done the coffee is then dried on raised beds with 'greenhouse ceilings' (to protect from rain). The coffee is then constantly monitored and stirred in order to achieve an even drying.
The farm is 70 hectares in size and provides work for 30 employees. ---