History and tradition of 140 years growing gourmet coffee.
By Roberto Dalton
Antigua Guatemala has long been recognized for growing the highest quality coffees in the world. It’s climate, high altitude, fertile volcanic soils and traditional farming practices contribute to the making of the world’s finest coffee.
My great-grandfather, Manuel Matheu Sinibaldi, was one of the first farmers who turned his land to coffee to overcome the Guatemalan economic crisis of 1870. What he lacked in experience, he made up for with initiative and a tireless spirit. It wasn’t long before he harvested his first coffee berries and set up a horse-powered mill to process both his own crop and the coffee from neighboring Antigua estates.
In 1874, just four years after the start of his new venture, my great-grandfather received a commission to grow one million coffee plants and distribute them to smaller farmers in the area. This was part of a Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios’ plan to encourage the production of coffee in the Antigua region. And so began a long family coffee tradition in Antigua Guatemala.
Filadelfia Estate was developed by my grandfather, Manuel Matheu Ariza, and later on by my mother Elisa Matheu Cofiño de Dalton. Our plantations have endured revolutions, devastating earthquakes and a series of severe frosts that destroyed Antigua’s entire coffee crop twice, in 1881 and 1885. But they have also benefited from the rich soil fed by the ashes of the very volcanoes that cause the earth to shake under our feet every so often; from the temperate climate that allows our coffee to mature slowly and from our own valley starting at 5150 feet up to the rugged heights, over 6,500 feet, that give our coffee its distinctive flavor and aroma. Not least, the plantations bask under the bright blue skies and in the colonial beauty of a city that inspires its people to celebrate the baroque art of their buildings in their everyday activity – be it ringing the church bells, or picking coffee berries in the shady groves, strolling to work in the mornings under the purple outline of our volcanoes, or processing coffee beans in traditional mills.
We know you’ll enjoy our coffee.