The Guatemalan coffee industry developed around the 1850s. Small plantations in Amatitlán and Antigua were the first and grew quickly, but lack of widespread knowledge, technology, and labor caused slow growth. Over a decade, growth increased and between 1879 and 1893 exports reached almost 300 million pounds.
In 1960, Asociación Nacional del Café, or Anacafé, was established as a national coffee association that aimed to represent Guatemalan coffee producers. It helped organize the nation’s export statistics as well as building a national brand. Today, eight regions are defined: Acatenango Valley, Antigua Coffee, Traditional Atitlan, Rainforest Coban, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehue, New Oriente, and Volcanic San Marcos.
Finca Santo Tomas Perdido is a family farm that has been producing specialty coffee, honey, and renewable energy since 1996. This farm is located in the beautiful area of San Lucas Toliman near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
Owned by the Torrebiarte family, the farm is currently run by the third generation, Javier Torrebiarte. Javier studied in the US and London and received degrees in agricultural business and technology before he returned home to Guatemala to manage the family farm. He now manages the daily operations of the farm, planning and supervising all field tasks, as well as picking and processing in the wet mill during the harvest season. Speaking of harvest, Finca Santo Tomas Perdido employs 125 full-time employees and up to 500 pickers during harvest!
Every year, the Torrebiarte family strives to improve their processing methods. One way they’ve done this is through implementing new sorting processes in the wet mill. Over the last three years, they added screens in different stages of our wet milling processes so that the top quality parchment can improve in quality even more.
To utilize their natural resources in the best possible way, while reducing our carbon footprint, they produce hydroelectric power. The sloping course of the farm’s most important river, Rio Santa Teresa, allows them to produce up to two megawatts of electricity per hour! This allows them to be self-sufficient and capable of selling the surplus production to the national system.
Did you know that Santo Tomas Perdido translates to lost Saint Thomas? Legend has it that the towns surrounding Lake Atitlan are named after the Apostles because it is said that Jesus summoned a meeting between them in the most beautiful place in the World and the lake was where they met. When they all gathered, however, they noticed that Saint Thomas was missing. They looked for him in the areas surrounding the lake, and finally found him where Finca Santo Tomas Perdido is now located. When they asked him what he was doing there, he answered that he had just followed instructions. He was waiting for them in the most beautiful place in the world.