Centric Culinary Inc.

Guatemala Anyone?

4 December 2017


June 2016 my love and I embarked to Central America to the beautiful city of Antiqua, Guatemala. A quick geo-bio courtesy of UNESCO says…

‘Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, was founded in the early 16th century. Built 1,500 m above sea-level, in an earthquake-prone region, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 but its principal monuments are still preserved as ruins. In the space of under three centuries the city, which was built on a grid pattern inspired by the Italian Renaissance, acquired a number of superb monuments.’

This scene looked like beautiful Church ruins scattered amongst brightly painted buildings in the Valley of a thick forest and volcanic surroundings and it felt like an Earthquake awakening on the second night of our visit. It truly is a town with a significant spiritual collective, historically Rich in Trade.

When writing about your own company or products, you probably write how great and wonderful you are. You describe how many products you sell, the clients you have, how many members you have – you want everyone to believe you are the best!

To that of a culinary interested social human (ahem), let’s focus on that last bit- Antigua is a town called Home to Generations of Producers and Providers.

We visited Finca Santa Clara, a Guatemalan Coffee Farm owned by the Zelaya family. The main man of this production is Ricardo Zelaya, a generous human with a contagious laugh, a wonderful Executive example of why the global partnership of providing coffee is so cherished, personally. To share why it is this location that I found myself at, Fresh Cup Roastery, my employer, roasts Finca Santa Clara coffee on-site at our Roastery location in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, our Guatemalan crop is one of our most loved, diverse beans. Through my boss and our Brokers I was able to gain a friendly handshake and Ricardo toured us around Santa Clara, 4x4ing through the heights. We chatted crop sustainability, disease prevention, hybrid developments, globalization, de-globalization, processing and presenting. Being that love is a Plumber, we also were able to get into the nitty-gritty details of water-recycling and irrigation. I watched the careful attention given to sorting beans, from the ‘throw-aways’ being dumped into the containers destined for cans of ground coffee to the creme de la crop, blue-ish green beans lacking any site of imperfection. This strenuous attention to detail is perfectionism at work, all hands on deck at all levels of process. We stood in front of the iconic little shack below the massive windmill structure that is printed onto our Jute Bags while Ricardo smiled at the lens, and I to the logo. It was no surprise that this Guatemalan Culinary/Coffee experience was an absolute hit in my books.

Handthrown Salt Cellars and Mugs.

Love left to go Surfing for the weekend, I opted to stay back in town with my eyes out to meet more of the local producers. I visited an absolutely STUNNING Farmers Market, met with the Manager and toured the property after introducing ourselves and interests over a fresh regional meal. Back at Home I was running a little Pop Up shop at a weekly market and I came to Caoba through a recommendation, given to me while talking shop with a Canadian customer at Fernandos Cafe in Antigua. This cafe visit left me with a surprising lesson that has resonated with me strongly since my return home so let’s focus on Fernandos for the remainder of this post.

I arrived nice and early for a lovely breakfast and cup of coffee ready to act on a tip that if I asked, I could likely get a house tour. At Fernandos, as I do at home, they roast all their coffee on-site. Unlike home, I could tell that it was likely that they roasted cocoa for chocolate too. Now it may seem a little backwards that the Coffee Roaster would suggest to simply ignore Coffee for the morning and talk chocolate together, but in all honesty- I roast differently, and I can’t say that drum roasting was new and exciting for me to see in a new and exciting town. I was really interested in the Chocolate. Fernando was pleased that I asked to switch the professional focus and immediately brought my attention to fresh roasted cocoa beans (try these should you ever have the opportunity) and mixing pots of various percentages.

“I watched the careful attention given to sorting beans….”
“This scene looked like beautiful Church ruins scattered amongst brightly painted buildings in the Valley of a thick forest….”
“Then like any two punks in a small room, tones of anarchy painted the walls and suddenly …”

From here we chatted sustainability, product development and recipe creation…my specialties, his too. Then like any two punks in a small room, tones of anarchy painted the walls and suddenly I was in a classroom, standing inspired.

I left that house with a depth of wisdom towards advocating in favour of local production, for protection of local commodity and for respect of the people, traditions, currencies and communities. I left with a deep sense of understanding that Chocolate is not my commodity to take home and roast. I left, feeling relieved as though I had dipped my curiosity into the bucket of Chocolate, and tasted the room to explore within this bean.

My visit moved me to pledge this- Unless I’m living in the local region, I don’t think I’ll be interested in roasting cocoa beans myself. I feel that if denying a skill that I foresee being a trend in years to come is a way to stand for sustainability, OK sure, I’ll sacrifice.


Jewellery by Sarah Tolle.

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