Guatemala Todosanterita - our July Bean of the Month - is a complex coffee, with aromas of dried fruit and vanilla, and flavours of peach, nectarine and dates in a medium body, with lime acidity and an apple finish.
Todosanterita is the name of a collective of farmers based on the slopes of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes - a mountain range which sweeps through the west of Guatemala - and together they have produced a coffee which is both bright and lovely.
When the beans are freshly ground, they release aromatics of dried fruit and vanilla. When brewed the lighter impressions of peach and nectarine are given richness from the sweet flavours of medjool dates.
A fine lime acidity gives a crispness to the cup, finishing in red apple. All this is carried in a medium body, which tends toward syrupyness when drunk as an espresso, and becomes liquor-like when extracted through a filter.
Coffee has been one of Guatemala's major export crops since the early 1800s. It's only been in the past few years that Guatemalans themselves have started to consume their own world-class coffee on a large scale.
Guatemala is the heart of Mayan culture, and July brings the National Folkloric Festival, the largest celebration of Mayan culture on the calendar. Mayan peoples from all over the country will come together to celebrate the culture and history through music, dance, costume and parades.
We raise a cup of the Guatemala Todosanterita to celebrate alongside the people, and hope you enjoy this lively example of Guatemalan coffee culture.
If you are a Friend of Merlo you’ll have seen our recommendation that you try brewing it as a ristretto if you’re putting it through an espresso machine, or using a slightly lower temperature water if you’re using a pour-over coffee maker (if you haven’t signed up to be our friend, do it here)
The aim of both adjustments is the same - to highlight and enhance the sweet fruit flavours and minimise any bitterness.
Small, strong and undiluted, served up in a tiny cup, ristretto coffees might look like a little espresso, but the taste is quite different. The name loosely translates to “restrict” or “narrow” and the making of one demands the restriction of water which is used in the brewing.
The barista cuts the shot short, before any bitterness can be extracted. Less water is able to pass through the coffee grounds, so the ratio of coffee to water is much higher, making the flavour more concentrated.
The sugars are also concentrated, which is perfect for a coffee like the Guatemala Todosanterita which has smooth body and delicate flavours like peach and vanilla. The medjool date-like sweetness will be elevated, and this will add a wonderful richness to your cup. So stop the shot before it becomes pale and enjoy a flavour bomb!
Water temperature plays a huge role in brewing - a basic rule of thumb is that the closer it is to boiling, the more effectively the water is able to extract the flavours from the coffee. This efficiency is offset by the fact that high temperatures can extract all the flavours, including bitterness which may be less desirable to some coffee drinkers.
A standard starting point for filter coffee temperature is 93C. If you’re making this Guatemalan as a pour-over, try this coffee brewed a little lower - between 88 and 91C - and see how the flavours change. You should see some interesting textures and flavours, especially in terms of how the acidity presents.
Whether you’re making espresso or filter coffee, one thing is true - there is no 'right way' to make it. We offer these suggestions, but they’re just that - suggestions - and no method or recipe is better than another. Make coffee the way you love it; the most important thing to consider is always your own enjoyment.
Let us know how you go with this one!