An accustomed Wednesday morning in San Antonio Huista, Huehuetenango, Guatemala always starts with a traditional breakfast of eggs, black beans and plantains, and an early visit to the local market to get fresh food for the day. Today was different. The busiest street of town was closed and open to the public so everyone could enjoy, and support youth participants innovations made around coffee. Today, the first Specialty Coffee Expo (Festival Huist Kapeh) of the region, made through the support of VICAFE, PROCAGICA, PRONACOM and ANACAFE takes place. Eight members from the youth initiative program of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) in Huehuetenango will proudly present various new drinks they’ve worked on jointly to create. I am with my colleague Janka Rokob, HRNS Program Manager Youth, excited, but not knowing exactly what to expect.
San Antonio was starting to stir and you could already see youth members preparing their stand, cleaning their working area and making drink trials before the expo started.
You could see how seriously they were taking the event. Their concentrated faces and focused looks made it very clear that this was something they’d been working hard for and looking forward too.
After arriving to Huehuetenango, the day before the event, we met with the youth members of our program that would be participating in the event and the regional HRNS team. HRNS has been part of the coffee roundtable in San Antonio and continues to work with young coffee farmers in the region. They shared their creative process and ideas behind the drinks they created. Alejandro Herrera, the creative director behind the drinks, shared their challenges as a group: “We needed to find correct ingredients, measurements and combining all of the ideas to become one.”
“The Specialty Coffee Festival is a space where youth are able to present innovations around coffee to their families and local community. We’ve been working hard to create drinks that are captivating to the public and create new opportunities around coffee” explained Franklin Cano, one of the team leaders and spokesperson for the youth group.
Visitors from neighboring villages came with their families to enjoy a wonderful afternoon trying new drinks. Coffee pulp soda and cocktails, spicy lattes, coffee oatmeal ice creams and espresso slushy’s were among the different variety of drinks offered. One of the visitors shared, “It is great to see how youth are innovating. I would have loved for my oldest to be here and see everything they’re creating so he can also get involved with the group!”.
Ana Beatriz Mendoza, head bartender with expertise in restaurant services expressed, “People who got a chance to try our drinks not only enjoyed them but realized that there are different business opportunities that can come out of coffee. This expo was not only about tasting different drinks but realizing that there is so much that can be done!”
Who would have ever thought that those youth who told us one year ago they’re not interested in coffee at all, would become so excited and motivated to try out new opportunities around coffee. We are excited and will continue encouraging young entrepreneurs!