The Acatenango cooperative is located in Acatenango, Chimaltenango on the slopes of the Acatenango volcano which is the third highest in the Central American range and gives the cooperative their name. It was established in March 1967, by 24 members who wanted to get a better price for their coffee. Two years later, these coffee pioneers also helped establish the exporter Fedecocagua who we now source a large amount of our favourite Guatemalan coffees from, and by 2018 the coop had grown to include 351 members.
Volcan de Acatenango is located close to Volcan de Fuego, with Volcan de Agua being close to Palin. Volcanic soil can bring a lot of benefits in terms of nutrients to the plants, but as we saw in June 2018, there is always a threat of disruption and loss of life that eruptions can bring.
After picking, coffee is washed and pulped before drying for one day on the patios and then being moved to guardiolas for controlled drying. This typically comprises of 40 hours at 45 degrees before being lowered to 30 degrees and finally 15 degrees until the optimum moisture content is reached. The lowering of temperature ensures evenness of drying meaning the green life of the coffee is the best it can be. It is then shipped in parchement to the Fedecocagua facility in Palin, Escuintla for final grading and milling ready for export.
To prepare the beans for caffeine removal, they are cleaned and hydrated with pure, local water, the beans are then introduced to an internally developed Green Coffee Extract (GCE), and caffeine removal begins. Caffeine ventures out on its own, away from the coffee beans into the GCE until the ratio of soluble compounds in the GCE to the compounds in the coffee reach the point of equilibrium. Caffeine and GCE flow continuously through carbon filters until all the caffeine is trapped and separated from the GCE, which is refreshed so that it can be used again and again to remove more caffeine. The process is monitored for around 10 hours and caffeine levels checked as well as time, and gauge temperature controls, until the coffee is 99.9% caffeine free.