The Region

Santiago Atitlan sits next to Lake Atitlan, the most picturesque area of all Guatemala. The lake is surrounded by mountains, three of which are volcanoes: San Pedro, Tolliman, and Atitlan. It is on the southeastern ridges of the San Pedro Volcano that the Santiago Atitlan coffee is grown at an altitude of about 1725 meters. Santiago is a Tzuthil - Mayan Indian village of about 28,000. All of the coffee grown here is farmed by these native farmers. Each day they must hike from Santiago up the south side of San Pedro Volcano to work their small plots of land, usually 1-2 hectares. This hike takes 1-2 hours, and during harvest time the 110# sacks of cherry are carried down the mountain on their backs to sell each day.

Santiago is colorful as the men and women still wear the traditional native garments, where the fabric is all hand-woven and hand-embroidered in the most brilliant and beautiful colors. Driving into Santiago, still via dirt roads, or taking a boat across the lake to Santiago, the first streets you see are lined with the goods of the local vendors from leather goods to artwork, the fabrics woven by the Mayan women, and the children trying to sell strings of colored beans they have strung into necklaces and bracelets. You cannot help but fall in love with the color, the beauty, the energy and the people of Santiago.

The People

The children, by the time they are 7 years old, are beginning to learn what their adult roles will be. The boys begin going to the coffee fields with their fathers or one of the village elders to learn their future responsibilities. The girls get up at 5:00 AM with their mothers and grandmothers to take the day?s corn to one of the little corn mills in the town, to be cracked and milled for use in making tortillas and soups.

Several times a week they help carry loads of clothes down to the lake, where you can often see rows of women and girls doing the laundry. These people take care of each other. From the late 1970's through 1990, this area was ravished by Guerrilla warfare and many men, women and children from Santiago lost their lives. In December 1990 there was a massacre of 22 community members on the road just outside of Santiago, Atitlan. Today our growers group and their families still include and help provide for the widows and their families from this massacre. In the center of the village is the local market where food, crafts, clothing, tools, etc. are sold. In the evenings walking the streets, you can hear guitars playing and the natives singing. Running water, telephones, and electricity are luxuries that are very rare in Santiago. In 1993, Coffee Kids, Inc. established a "Women's Entrepreneurial Project" in Santiago, making micro loans to those women who were creditworthy, and who either had or wanted to start a small business. The program has taught them about record keeping, banking, and saving for their future. The program has helped to provide more income for these women and their families.

The Coffee

This coffee is certified organic shade grown and is mostly of the Bourbon, Caturra I and Catuai variety. The whole area is tropical mountain jungle. Our coffee grows inside the jungle canopy, among the natural flora and fauna of the steep mountain slopes.

This coffee is a small dark green bean that, when roasted, produces medium body, high acidity, and very complex multidimensional cup characteristics. This is an excellent SHB gourmet Guatemalan coffee.

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