At Dinamica, we strive to deliver the best quality coffee to our clients outside Guatemala. In each step we take, from choosing the right producing partners, to providing training when needed, sharing feedback, and improving our practices in the mill, we tend to every need and detail.
Our Quality Control Manager, Peter Engelhardt, is passionate about his job. He began his career 26 years ago working for Nestlé, where he had the opportunity to try coffees from Mexico and Central America. After his time in Nestlé he worked at Anacafé where, In Peter’s words, he learned about cupping protocols, traveled around the world demonstrating the wonders of Guatemalan beans, and found “the romantic side of coffee”. Peter joined our team four years ago; we are lucky to have him!
Keep reading to learn Peter’s thoughts on quality, as well as about his actions to maintain our coffee at a high standard.
“Specialty” vs “Quality”
Specialty coffee is directly related to quality, as it must comply with high standards and get 80+ points in the Specialty Coffee Association scale. However, this does not mean that coffees below 85 points can’t be quality coffees. For a batch to be labeled “quality coffee”, it also has to meet certain criteria. For example, the beans must be SHB graded and the cup score is within 80-85 points.
According to Peter, a specialty coffee label means the beans were grown in the correct environment, at the desired altitude, and under determined microclimates, with ideal farming and post-harvesting practices. There are, however, coffees from low altitude farms, with great quality that “every year give an identical or similar cup profile,” he added.
A good specialty coffee can be grown at 1,300 meters above sea level. With the right conditions to produce a great cup, good post-harvesting processes, and a well-controlled fermentation that coffee can produce the same quality result year after year.
In actuality, innovative fermentation processes can render interesting results and tasty coffees, Peter explained: “you can get interesting results, but these have to be incredibly well controlled, so the process doesn’t affect the quality”. Furthermore, he pointed out that these new processes are hard to replicate; even if they are controlled and results are good, it will be tough to obtain consistent results year after year. He added that bad fertilization can also negatively impact a coffee’s quality. “The whole process has to be consistent, so that quality is adequate”, he clarified. It is not only about having the right soil conditions, every step and every detail count.
What is quality control?
We asked Peter what managing quality control really means. He revealed that it is more than just cupping and grading coffees.
Everything starts when the coffee arrives at the mill, where Peter and his unit sample each one and add it to the database. The control team checks that every coffee meets all the requirements. “We get a little bit of everything; it’s not always perfect”, Peter declared. Dinamica receives coffee from different associations, cooperatives, farmers, and its own family farms, and Peter goes through every lot, making sure they are in good conditions and classifying the coffee according to its characteristics. If a coffee stands out, they label it a “micro-lot” or as “specialty” so it is duly processed.
For better control and traceability every lot is analyzed and blind cupped. “I prefer not to know which coffee belongs to whom, so we blind cup every batch”, Peter explained. If coffees are too fresh, we let them sit for a while, and we analyze them the following, this allows for moisture and water activity to stabilize.
A good cup of Guatemalan Coffee
When buyers come to Guatemala, they usually scout for sweet, well-balanced coffees with fruity notes. “They usually know what they are looking for,” Peter admitted.
In Guatemala, depending on each region or farm, you can find a wide range of coffee profiles. Peter suggests to buyers to “have in mind what you are looking for”, as there is a wide diversity of flavors and varieties. “If they are looking for wine-like notes, we can offer that. If they are looking for apple notes or floral coffees, we’ve got them! So that’s why it’s easier when they have a clear idea of what they are looking for, so we can find the right coffee for them,” he stated.
If a coffee stands out during the control check, it is immediately prepared at the lab so that an offer can be made to potential clients. This is why it is of the utmost importance to know and keep our clients’ preferences in mind when searching for coffees. We want to create the perfect match for them.
As Peter mentioned in our chat, “we are pretty lucky to have a wide variety of coffees with different characteristics; we have coffee for everyone”! Whether you’re looking for something fruity, sweet, and well-balanced, with notes of honey in the aftertaste and a subtle acidity (Peter’s perfect cup), or for something completely different, we are sure you’ll be able to find it in Guatemala!
We feel proud to say Guatemala is recognized for the quality of its coffee, and we’d love to share that with you. If you are ever looking for some guidance to find the perfect coffee for your company, do not hesitate to reach out! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us here.