The history of the Rio Azul cooperative goes back to 1977 when it was part of the larger group Fedecocagua, where local farmers cooperated. In 2001, the cooperative became independent, and today it consists of 254 producers, 500 associates, and seven members of the board of directors. The farmers are members of the indigenous Mayan ethnic group and the Popti tribe. To this day, they maintain the ancient traditions not only with Mayan clothing but also with a big annual four-week festival to celebrate the four elements. Before the founding of the cooperative, the primary cultivated commodities were beans and corn. Thanks to a joint cooperative effort, the farmers obtained finance to invest in modern technologies and grow coffee as a major export crop today.
Caturra is a dwarf natural hybrid of the bourbon variety. The first mentions and found plants are from Brazil sometime in the mid-50s of the 20th century. Farmers quickly fell in love with it precisely because of its tiny stature, as they could plant a more significant number of plants in a smaller space and thus increase the profitability of farms. Caturra has excellent taste characteristics. Unfortunately, it is very susceptible to diseases.
Bourbon is one of the most culturally and genetically important Arabica varieties in the world, known for its excellent taste quality in the cup. It is grown at the highest altitudes.
Typica, like bourbon, belongs to the essential varieties in Central America and worldwide. It is known for its high quality. Unfortunately, it has a very high susceptibility to coffee leaf rust but adapts well to colder conditions.
After hand-picking at local farms and sorting, the cherries are transported to Rio Azul’s processing plant in Jacaltenango. Here, the cherries are peeled and allowed to ferment in tanks. This process is temperature dependent and takes about 36 hours. After fermentation, the coffee is mechanically washed. The last step is drying in direct sunlight, which takes place for about 10-12 days on concrete surfaces, so-called patios.