We work with the La Voz cooperative in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, to produce first-rate coffee, specifically for our decaffeinated offerings. Using an organic, water-based process, this coffee is decaffeinated in small batches, keeping it fresh and tasting its best. Look for sweet notes of toffee, graham, and cherry.
La Voz was founded in 1979 and has been producing organic coffee for more than 24 years. Their cooperative currently has 162 members, and they are hoping to grow, especially in female membership, in the coming years. About six years ago, the cooperative went through some tough financial times. With new leadership in place, however, they bounced back and have continued to be on the right track.
The predominant indigenous group that makes up the cooperative is called the Tz'utujil. Many cooperative members call each other by their indigenous names and speak the indigenous languages, as well as Spanish. Maintaining elements of their culture is very important to them and to their future generations.
For the past several years the cooperative has put a lot of energy into bringing people who were previously unfamiliar with coffee to see their cooperative. Their ecotourism effort is one that very few other coffee cooperatives are involved in at this point. They operate their own cafe where they use their own green coffee roasted on the premises, and they place an emphasis on taking tourists through the entire coffee experience, from the coffee tree all the way to the coffee in your cup.
In terms of coffee quality, the conversations we've had over the last few years led to some concrete changes for La Voz. In particular, they focused on hiring more people to sort coffee cherries by color upon receipt, they are drying coffee on nylon so it is easier to protect when the inevitable rains come, and they asked the exporter to keep our coffee from different parts of the harvest separate.
We believe in offering the best possible experience to drinkers of decaffeinated coffees—coffees that taste great from farms we’re excited about and relationships in which we take great pride. We send small batches of coffee to the Swiss Water decaffeination plant in Vancouver, Canada, frequently, which allows us to offer a larger variety of our best single-origin coffees than if we stuck with traditional, larger-batch decaffeination—and keeps our decafs tasting fresh.