Chochajau | Atitlan, Guatemala

Notes: Caramel, apple, pomelo & graham cracker. 
Growers: 62 Atitlan region families.
Varietals: : Caturra, CR-95, Typica and Bourbon
Process: Fully washed
Certification: Organic cooperative
Region: Atitlan, Guatemala
Elevation: 1600-1800 MASL
Import Partners: OLAM Specialty 

This organic coffee was cultivated near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala's highlands, bordered by three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. This lot came from Cerro Lancandon Chochajau, a farm operation that cultivates over 33 hectares with 27 producers contributing to the farm. 

About Chochajau:
Chochajau is a compound word formed by two references in the Quiche language which is commonly spoken in this region of San Juan La Laguna, Atitilan. The name is a reference to the location that is dominated by steep mountains and cold blue water. The name comes from 3 different elements, Cloud in English as the mist and clouds usually move in the afternoon. Chó = Señor or Sir. And Já = Water or Cloud. Depending on how you build this the name could translate to Cerro del Agua or Mountain of Water. The tiny town that sits in the center of where this coffee comes from is called Pasajquim or Road of Palms.

There are three main languages spoken in this region: Tzutujil is the official language of the low lands, in the high mountains that tower over the lake Quiché is spoken. And both communities speak Spanish. Hence depending on the altitude an entirely different language can be spoked by the growers. Speaking of elevation the range here is quite large the base is 1300 meters at the lowest and at the top of Sipalá 1900 meters.

As the story goes, coffee can be traced back to the 1920’s and the families Puac, Tuy, Ajche, Mantanic and Xum. These families lived in Lake Atitlan but would travel Santo Tomas La Union to pick coffee for about 6 months of the year. The travel was both dangerous and taxing. Hence these families brought seeds back and started to plant their own coffee and become farmers themselves.

Who actually grow Chochaujao now? There are 62 farming families that work in the production of this coffee all strictly following organic standards. As are many small producers the farms are diversified. With coffee there are usually some chickens, tubers and even some pigs. Another cash crop that is sold is avocado. Some of the best avocados from Guatemala come from the cool misty environment where this coffee grows.

The Chochajau group was initially formed as a GAT (Group of Friends and Work or Grupo de Amistad y Trabajo, in Spanish) in 2000. They have been certified organic since 2002. For the last many years they have been working with Olam Specialty Coffee