Complete Guide To Guatemalan coffee

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Guatemalan Coffee Guide

The year is 2020 and there’s no denying it. We live in the times of influencers. The internet in general and social media in particular have considerable control over public opinion. Word of mouth has never been more paramount than it is today. And the word is; the coffee grown in Guatemala is some of the best you will ever taste.

With coffee standing today as the second most traded commodity in the world. There isn’t a shortage in production by any stretch of the imagination. Almost every country in the world has their feet dipped in the coffee community.

Guatemalan Coffee Guide

So what is it that has everyone reaching for the beans from this Central American country?
Let’s find out shall we.

History and Origin

Coffee entered into the borders of Guatemala close to three centuries ago. As with the country of Colombia; The brown bean was introduced to Guatemala through the hands of Jesuit missionaries. Sadly though when coffee made its first tentative steps around the country, economic conditions were far from ideal. As a result for almost a hundred years, coffee simply sat stagnant in the country. Through that time coffee was considered a pretty green plant and used for decorative purposes in some places. 

Towards the year 1860, the country began to see a drop in the demand for indigo; a crop that played an important role in the Guatemala economy. The government of Guatemala decided to step in. They actively encouraged the people of the country to take up coffee farming. In just two decades, coffee took over the exports of the country making up 90 percent of products leaving Guatemala’s shores.

By 1986, they had their own union up and running. The Asosiación Nacional del Café. Also known as the Anacafé. The union took it on themselves to improve the lifestyles of the coffee farmers in the country. They provided research and training and workshops. The union is also responsible for ensuring the standard of coffee leaving the country’s shores never drops.

Guatemala specializes in specialty-grade coffee. Today it rounds off the list of the top 10 coffee producing countries in the world after Honduran coffee and Mexican coffee. Costa Rica is another coffee region in Central America which is nearby, but that doesn’t makes up to the top coffee producing regions.

Growing Regions

Over the years coffee in Guatemala has managed to spread its tendrils all across the country. As a result of the number of both active and inactive volcanoes in the area. The soil offers the ideal nourishment for coffee to flourish. While farmers all over are committed to the growth of coffee. There are seven regions that can claim responsibility for most of the country’s produce.

Antigua

This is the region most commonly associated with Guatemalan coffee by caffeine drinkers all over the world. The beauty of the place is that it is surrounded by not one, but three volcanoes. As a result there is often a new layer of volcanic ash added into the soil every few months providing further nourishment. Antigua witnesses less humidity than most of the other coffee growing regions in the country. 
The coffee in this city grows between 1,500 and 1,700 meters above sea level. It is mainly picked in the beginning months of the year. The hint of cocoa in the coffee exiting the region is unmistakable. Some of the popular blends exiting the borders include Caturra, Bourbon and Catuai.

Rainforest Cobána

A region that enjoys weather on the humid side of the scale. Rain wets the soil almost every day of the year in the Cobána region. The rain results in a slight ever-present haze that hovers over the growing coffee. The coffee is grown in soil mainly composed of limestone and clay at altitudes of 4,300 to 5,000 feet.

Acatenango Valley

All the coffee here grows above a height of two thousand feet. The soil in the valley is nourished by volcanic ash. Making it the perfect canvas for the little brown bean to flourish. Added to that, is the minerals that leak into the soil from the varied trees growing in the surrounding forests.

Coffee growing in the valley


The farmers in the area have learned to depend on the land and its natural resources to help in the growth of their crop. You can be guaranteed the coffee exiting the region is organic.

Atitlan

Known for welcoming the famed Xocomil winds, Atitlan enjoys a micro-climate of its own. You can therefore be guaranteed a rich complex flavour in the coffee leaving the region. Almost all of the coffee in this region is grown in farms standing on the slopes of volcanoes. The coffee farms spread around the region circling the incredible Lake of Atitlán.

Huehuetenango

Home to some of the highlands of the country. The coffee exiting the area all fit into the strictly hard category. It is one of the few regions in the country that cannot call volcanoes its neighbours. The region also enjoys slightly dryer climatic conditions when compared to the other areas in the country.

 Fraijanes Plateau

Home to both elevated altitude and elevated rainfall. This area counts an active volcano as part of its neighborhood. Pacaya volcano is perhaps the most live volcano around, showering the soil in the region with minerals and ash. Unlike a few of the bordering regions, Fraijanes enjoys a comfortable mix of climates throughout the year.

 Volcan San Marcos

Shade grown coffee

San Marcos is one of the warmest of the coffee growing regions in the country. The region also manages to collect the highest amount of rainfall in the country. Which is why the valley is covered in an umbrella of green trees. Anybody who knows anything about coffee can tell you that shade grown coffee grows better when it is protected from the harsh damage of the sun.

Characteristics

While Guatemala certainly cannot be classified as a big country. It still manages to offer an impressive range of coffee profiles. Given that the climate and altitude in the various growing regions in the country vary. You shouldn’t be surprised to find a medley of tastes in the beans leaving the country. 

The basic principle with coffee is. The higher the beans grow, the bolder the overall flavour. Since most of the country has a fair share of greenery gracing its land. Fruity nutrients and flavours from the trees seep into the soil and contribute towards the taste profile of the beans. Add to that the fact coffee farms in Guatemala grow on rich nutritious soils. And volcanic ash is almost an ever present ingredient in the composition of soil. You start to understand why the country holds the reputation of high quality among the coffee community.

If you find yourself reaching for a bag of coffee beans originating in Guatemala, you’re in for some strong coffee. But don’t fret there are a few medium body blends containing a complex flavour. If your coffee has a zing of some spice with floral and chocolatey tones tying in. Chances are they were grown in farms in Antigua or Atitlan. San Marcos is known to offer up some naughty nutty flavoured beans. The coffee farms standing closer to the oceans yield beans with less acidity. Whatever your palate prefers, Guatemalan coffee seems to have an answer.

Types

The country of Guatemala has a reputation to uphold when it comes to the coffee beans leaving their shores. Sure you see the usual suspects in the faces of Pache, Caturra, Typica, Bourbon and Catuai varieties. However the Anacafé is constantly working with research and innovation teams to discover and create new variations.The Pacamara, Maracaturra, Geisha and Geisha beans that have recently seen a spike in production are the result. 

A majority of the coffee growing in Guatemala are Arabica. Robusta beans make up for less than five percent of the total produce. However it is an area the country is interested in investigating and developing. Close to one fourth of the coffee grown in the country is rust-resistant. You can now find the questionable Catimor varietal and the arabica varieties like Sarchimor exiting the country. 

If you want us to drop a few names, the notoriously favoured Santa Barbara beans call the city of Antigua their home. Sought after by coffee connoisseurs all over the world brewing the beans truly is a treat for all the senses. 

Best Brewing Methods for Guatemalan Coffee

So you’ve decided to take a trip down the rabbit hole. You’ve bagged yourself some delicious coffee from Guatemala. It’s now time to navigate your way through the scores of choices, and land on the apparatus that’s going to make your coffee just a little bit extra special.

Cold Brew

There really is nothing that can be compared to the joy a refreshing cup of cold brewed coffee can bring to a dull summer day. Coffee beans that call Guatemala their home are known to possess varying hints of floral flavour. The cold brew is a particularly patient method of getting the flavour out of the beans that works beautifully here. The time the grinds are immersed also works well to pull out the sweetness from the beans. The result needless to say. Is completely often worth the wait.

French Press

Using a French Press to brew Guatemalan coffee

One of the simplest methods that coffee lovers often turn to. Guatemala is known for coffee beans bursting with flavour. When you choose to completely immerse your coffee grinds in hot water. You can be ensured the full flavour will be pulled out. It is the perfect marriage of apparatus and bean. You will be rewarded with a rich full bodied cup of caffeine to power through your day.

A note of caution though. If you opt to brew with this method, follow the steps precisely. Don’t forget to opt for a coarse grind setting. Do not allow the grinds to sit in the hot water for too long. Or your morning cup might err on the side of bitter.

Pour Over

The favourite of everyone who takes pleasure in being involved in creating their cup of coffee. Since a pour over gives you a lot more control over the various elements in the process. Feel free to be adventurous and experiment when you brew. Just don’t forget to allow your coffee grinds time to bloom, however eager you are for your cup. Pour over method of brewing works best with a lighter blend. So opt for one of those amongst Guatemala’s numerous flavour offerings.

There is no real hard and fast rule over which method you need to opt for. A V60, Chemex, or even the Kalita Wave will do the job admirably.

5 Best Guatmalan Coffee Brands

Chances are you’ve already faced and relished a cup of Guatemalan coffee. If you haven’t though. There happen to be plenty of choices to wet your appetite. In fact, the options offered can at times be confusing. To help you make a choice we’ve narrowed down some of the top rated blends on everyone’s must try list. 

1. Aroma Ridge Guatemala Antigua

Aroma Ridge Guatemala Coffee

At the start of our list we have the contribution by a family owned business. Dedicated to sourcing the finest mountain-grown superior quality coffee and providing it to consumers all across the globe. Their contribution to our list today is in the face of the Guatemala Peaberry coffee beans. Originating in the famed Antigua, Santa Barbara region. The beans once brewed, result in a flavour bomb meshing together floral notes with the smoothness of chocolate iconic to the region. Don’t miss the secret splash of spice that adds in the extra oomph to your morning cup of coffee. Each individual blend is evenly and carefully roasted by artisans to bring out the perfect balance of flavours from the beans.

Aroma Ridge Guatemala Antigua Whole Bean Coffee, Medium...
  • Grown in the Antigua district southwest of...
  • Smoky ,rich with a truly intense flavor.
  • Recognized as one of the world's best coffees


The company boasts of having strong familial connections with the people behind the scenes in Guatemala. That is, the farmers and workers responsible for growing and processing the beans. Freshly roasted in the USA, the people at Aroma Ridge guarantee you’re going to love what they have to offer. They’re willing to provide a refund if you are left unsatisfied in any way.

2. Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Blend

Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Coffee

Next in our list we Copper Moon offering up a caffeinated blend of the best quality beans found in Antigua. This light roast brews into a rich creamy cup that holds hints of chocolate and specs of spice. Finally finishing off with a nudge of nuttiness. The beans in the blend are both gluten and allergen free. Additionally they are a single origin blend and are not genetically modified in a any way 

The coffee is roasted in small batches in order to ensure the beans are fresh when they get to your doorstep. The Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua blend is organic coffee. So you can be assured that all practices, from growing the beans; to processing, drying, and packaging them. Everything is conducted without the outside interference of artificial chemicals. The beans are sourced sustainably with due attention offered to environmental, economic and special impact.

Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Blend, Whole Bean...
  • CAFÉ COFFEE BREWED BY YOU: Start each day...
  • WHOLE BEAN OR GROUND: Do you prefer to grind...
  • SINGLE BATCH ROASTED: At Copper Moon Coffee,...

The blend is available as whole beans. Allowing to freshly grind your coffee each time before you brew and extract optimum flavour from the beans. If you don’t happen to have a grinder in your kitchen. Have no fear. The blend is also available in a pre ground pack.

3. Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee

Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee beans

Trotting in third on our list is a brand with formidable claims. Peak Performance offers a solution to those who stay away from caffeinated beverages claiming health as a concern.

This time, Peak Performance bring you a blend constructed from Strictly Hard Beans growing in the Guatemalan Highlands. The added advantage this blend promises to bring you, is a boat full of antioxidants with every brew. The aim of the game is to offer you everything you need to start your day at peak health in a cup. The result is a crisp no-nonsense cup of coffee that is low in acidity and goes down smooth. 

The blend is certified organic by the United States department of Agriculture. The beans are non GMO and sourced using fair trade practices. Which means the farmers growing the crop in Guatemala. And all the people in between working to get the coffee to you are treated fairly.

Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee. Fair...
  • Fair Trade - Usda Certified Organic - Single...
  • Healthy Coffee Rule #1) Always Go Organic....
  • Healthy Coffee Rule #2) Coffee Grown At High...

The people at Peak Performance are so confident you’re going to love what they have to offer. They’re willing to provide 100% satisfaction guarantee.

4. Two Volcanoes Coffee – Gourmet Guatemala

Two Volcanoes Coffee - Gourmet Guatemala beans

Stepping through next is Two Volcanoes with their enticing blend. The medium roast contains single origin beans from the San Marcos region in Guatemala. And as the name suggests, they grow in farms neighbored by two volcanoes. The ash from the volcanoes ensures the soil that the coffee calls its home is bathed in nutrients and minerals throughout the year.

The cup holds a flattering heap of nuttiness with whispers of floral to finish. A treat for more than just your taste buds. When you brew the Two Volcanoes Gourmet blend. You’re whipping up and aroma to tempt even the most hardcore nay sayer into craving a cup of coffee.
The best thing is, the blend is low in acidity. So even those who stay away from bold blends on account of stomach issues, can turn to the Two Volcanoes coffee for their morning dose.

Two Volcanoes Coffee - Gourmet Guatemala Whole Bean...
  • DELICIOUS AROMA, GREAT TASTING GUATEMALAN...
  • THE BEST FLAVOR AND AROMA BECAUSE IT'S MEDIUM...
  • ROASTED IN SMALL BATCHES TO GUARANTEE AN...

The arabica beans are grown and processed organically. They are roasted to a medium brown in small batches in order to provide fresh produce every time you order. The beans are packed in a bag that comes with a degassing valve. You are guaranteed that air will only leave the pack. And never be able to enter in and alter the enjoyment of the blend.

5. Volcanica Guatemalan Coffee, Antigua Ground

Volcanica Guatemalan Coffee, Antigua Ground

Wrapping up our list, is a medium roast by Volcanica. Composed completely of single origin beans from the Santa Barbara Estate in Antigua. The blend brews into a rich velvety cup with a smooth finish. Grown in soil flavoured by volcanic ash. You can be confident that the flavour and quality of the coffee beans meet the highest of standards.

If you opt to bring this blend home. You’re going to be treated to a delicious steaming cup of coffee containing notes of nuttiness and chocolate. The rich chocolate is not just a taste to treasure. It brings a delicious tingle to your nose every time you brew. The beans used in this blend are organically grown. They are also certified by both the Rainforest Alliance and Fair-Trade coffee. So be assured the people at Volcanica have great concern for social, environmental and economic impact of their actions in the country.

The beans used in the blend are roasted after you order. You are ensured a fresh batch will be knocking at your door each time. The blend can be best enjoyed when constructed using a drip method or French Press. If you like the flavour, but despise the caffeinated rush that follows. Do not despair. The blend is also available in a decaf offering.

FAQs

  1. How many people in Guatamala produce coffee?

    There are over a hundred and twenty five thousand locals whose livelihoods are dedicated to producing coffee in the country.

  2. How is the coffee grown in the country processed?

    All the coffee grown in the country is wet processed before being dried and roasted.

  3. How much coffee does Guatemala produces in a year?

    Guatemala produces close to 21,59,09,968 Kilograms of coffee in a year. That in turn accounts for 2.7% of the total global coffee production.

At the End of the Day

There’s a famous saying quoted by a well known singer a long time ago. It goes something like; Big things come in small packages.
No other place personifies this saying quite like Guatemala. While the country already offers an impressive rolodex of top coffee blends to community. Make no mistake. They’re by no means done. The government, union and locals themselves are committed towards the little brown bean. And determined to explore all it has to offer to the world.