Located in the remote western Guatemalan town of Jacaltenango, Coffee from Rio Azul is produced by 210 members, 43 of whom are women. All members of the cooperative are of the Mayan group Jacaltec, also commonly called Pobp’ al Ti’ or Popti people. Founded in 1967, the cooperative has a long history of producing some of the best Guatemalan coffee exported under the famed “Huehuetenango” mark.
The members of Rio Azul all live no more than a 1.5 hour walk to the wet mill in Jacaltenango. This allows the cooperative complete control over several stages of the quality process. Coffee is picked by members until early afternoon and then delivered in cherry form to the mill each afternoon. The coffee is de-pulped, fermented and washed at the centralized wet-mill and then spread out to sun-dry on the adjacent patios. The parchment is stored in their warehouse awaiting export. As the shipping day approaches the coffee is transferred to Guatemala City for final processing and export preparation in an organic dry mill.