Meet Jovita Castillo: the woman behind our beloved Finca Joya Grande coffee

With over 25 million coffee producers around the world, there's no shortage of exceptional coffee being grown, processed, cupped and roasted.

But we look for more than just incredible flavour with our coffee. People, flavour and innovation have been our guiding principles since day one, and we strive to work with coffee producers who share our values.

A coffee that immediately comes to mind is Guatemala Finca Joya Grande. Produced by Jovita Castillo, this is a coffee that we’ve purchased since 2018 through our partner Bicafe; the team there focus on traceable specialty coffee from both Guatemala and Honduras.

Our main contact, GM Enrique Salazar, previously worked at Café Lux who we’ve worked with since 2008. Enrique helped develop the Sierra Encantada — a blended coffee we have bought through Lux, also since 2008. He knows the type of Guatemalan coffees that we are typically drawn to very well. 

We generally seek Guatemalan coffees with great acidity, apple, toffee and caramel notes, with rich sweetness and complexity in the cup. This profile often brings us to the Santa Rosa region which is famous for these characteristics. This led Enrique to put forward the Joya Grande in 2018 and we haven’t turned back, buying it each year for the past five years. 

Finca Joya Grande is run by Jovita Castillo, a very well-known and well-respected woman passionate about her local community and environment. Quite a large farm by Guatemalan standards, Jovita is responsible for 305 hectares of dedicated coffee production. With an extra 200 hectares of preserved native forest regenerating native flora and fauna in the region, Finca Joya Grande is over 500 hectares of farmland in the heart of the Santa Rosa region. The average farm size in Guatemala is close to 3 hectares, so it’s rare to find estates so large that can produce several containers per harvest.

Committed to the idea that happy and healthy workers produce the highest quality work, the farm is set up to support workers’ families. There are kindergarten and primary school classrooms on-site which are provided free of charge for children of farm staff and the local community. This is combined with a medical clinic where Jovita arranges regular visits by doctors, including women's health specialists. 

In 2019, our Buyer and Head Roaster Cam was lucky enough to visit Finca Joya Grande to meet Jovita and her team. Touring the farm, Jovita spoke on the estate and the industry at large. She explained that funds from the estate's parent company are a little hard to come by, so she has to be quite thrifty in her operations to stretch the funds. 

To maximise efficiency, the team have set up a natural composting system utilising byproduct from coffee processing, animal manure and other plant matter from the farm. Combined with a large worm farm providing a potent organic fertiliser, the biodiversity on the estate has increased considerably — rejuvenated flower gardens and fruit trees attract birds and insects which aid with natural pest control and pollination. 

Joya Grande’s hard work and attention to detail has been rewarded with their coffee placing highly in several competitions — local ones in Guatemala, Cup of Excellence, and a finalist in the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards in 2021. 

Jovita and her team truly embody our guiding pillars of people, flavour and innovation. We’re incredibly proud to purchase all of the highest grade SHB coffee that Finca Joya Grande produces, between 3-5 containers per year, and it's become a mainstay within our offering. 

Grab a bag for home or swing past any of our roastery cafés to experience a delicious washed coffee with layered complexity. Finca Joya Grande is an aromatic brew with delicious notes of red apple, caramel and toffee.