High in the foggy climes of Guatemala’s rugged Alta Verapaz region, over the ridge and behind the farmhouse of the Santa Sofia coffee farm, the land drops dramatically into the valley of Tactic. The road we take to the farm climbs around and around the hill, and the air becomes chilled and dense with plant respiration. Up here, the topography forms a kind of high-elevation fog basket, suspending precipitation above the valley below in the thick shroud of a cloud forest.
At this elevation, and at the level of quality Santa Sofia is pursuing, coffee is a huge challenge, which owner and first-generation farmer Pablo Ferrigno accepts as a kind of zen praxis for himself—something that requires stewardship and patience. His home stands on stilts in the middle of a grove of trees, through which you can see the open air of the valley. The hallways of his home, once emblazoned with the vibrant neon colors of traditional Guatemalan coffee mills, are now washed and softened with time.
Pablo selected the site specifically for its challenging microclimate. Like someone who has braved heartache and hardship, coffee grown in adverse conditions produces resiliency and complexity. Sure enough, Pablo's coffees are intensely compact, structured with sweet-tart acids, herbaceous fragrances, and a condensed fruit bouquet that reminds you of berry jam still warm from the pot. And although they’re less than an hour away, the conditions at Santa Sofia are very different from the warm valley below, where the rich and loamy grounds of the Finca Chimelb cacao farm lie.
Raised just thirty miles from one another, the coffee of Santa Sofia and the cacao of Finca Chimelb soaked up the same rainwater, bloomed under the same sun, and have now found each other at last in our latest collaboration with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.
It’s a coffee and chocolate pairing that began with a simple question—“What if we sourced coffee and cocoa from the same region?”—and became, quite literally, a twosome made for each other. The chocolate smolders with gunpowder and oolong. The coffee, meanwhile, reaches up toward the canopy of trees, with delicate florals and sunlit fruit. Like postcards from afar, the chocolate reminds us of the transcendency of Alta Verapaz, and the coffee embodies Pablo’s vision for his farm: to provide solace, to rejuvenate the spirit, and to provide liberation from the minute needs of city life.
For a limited time, you can try our Guatemala Alta Verapaz Santa Sofia coffee and Dick Taylor Guatemala Alta Verapaz chocolate at any of our cafe locations. You can also order the coffee and chocolate pairing to your door and try it at home—we have just a few remaining!
Photography by Devin Pedde