Coffee from Central America is known to be good coffee, and Guatemala is no different. There are multiple regions in Guatemala that produce coffee beans, and each one has beans with a different taste. Guatemalan Coffee is definitely in a league of its own. Here is what you should know about Guatemalan Coffee.
The coffee industry in Guatemala only began to boom in the 1860s, when the other primary industry at that time, the carmine dye industry, began to decline. Now there are eight regions in Guatemala that are the leading coffee production areas, with each region producing a different tasting coffee.
What is the whole history of Guatemalan Coffee? What foods pair well with Guatemalan Coffee? How is Guatemalan Coffee processed? What is the flavor profile of Guatemalan Coffee? Keep reading to find out!
But if you are short on time, here is the list of the best Guatemalan coffee:
- Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry Coffee
- Coopers Cask Guatemalan Coffee Beans
- Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Coffee Beans
- Fresh Roast Coffee Huehue Coffee Beans
- Peet’s Coffee Guatemalan (K Cups)
- Two Volcanoes Coffee Gourmet Guatemalan Coffee
The History Of Guatemalan Coffee
The history of Coffee in Guatemala is a long and interesting one, so let us go through it. Coffee was introduced to Guatemala in the mid-1700s, but it was only in the 1860s when the production of coffee started to take off.
Until this time, however, the coffee plant was only used for ornamental purposes. But in 1860, when the carmine dye industry began to decline in Guatemala, the government started to look for new industries that could help developers boost the country’s economy.
As Guatemala has a temperate climate and highly favorable growing conditions for coffee plants, coffee began to fill this role in the economy. When the coffee industry first started, some small coffee plantations popped up in the Amatitlas and the Antigua regions of the country, and they soon began to flourish.
Even though the growth of the coffee industry in these two regions took off, the industry in the rest of the country grew slowly. This was due to a lack of modern technology and knowledge that was needed for the rapid expansion of the coffee industry.
However, over the next few years, Guatemala acquired the necessary equipment and knowledge to substantially increase its coffee productions. As the industry grew, it was found that there were a few large sections of the country that were excellent for coffee cultivation. This was where multiple varieties of coffee began to develop around Guatemala.
From there, the coffee industry boomed, and coffee plantations started in almost every state or department of Guatemala. As the coffee industry grew, coffee farmers needed some help in organizing and regulating coffee production.
This was when unions began to form, which was called Anacafe (Asociacion Nacional del Café). In present times, this union is the sole authority of Guatemalan Coffee, as it regulated exportations and production of the coffee.
The Processing Methods For Guatemalan Coffee
The average coffee farm in Guatemala is relatively small, a lot like most farms in Central America, which does mean that hand-picking the coffee beans is more of the norm than other mechanical methods, especially on farms that produce specialty coffee beans.
About 98% of the coffee that is produced in Guatemala is shade-grown, which is associated with a large number of benefits. Some of these benefits include an increase of biodiversity, leading to healthier land, and the coffee cherries ripen slower, giving the coffee beans that are produced a more complex flavor.
As water is abundant in Guatemala, the farmers mostly use the wet processing method with the coffee beans. They cannot use the dry process as the humidity levels are too high and disrupt this method.
But this is not a problem for Guatemalan coffee farmers as most of them and their customers prefer the coffee produced using the wet processing method. This is because this method produces more consistent results with the coffee beans and highlights the natural acidity that is in the coffee beans.
Growing Regions For Guatemalan Coffee
The coffee produced in Guatemala is divided into several very distinct regions and based on the climate of these regions, along with the soil, altitude, and the cup profile of the coffee. Because of these divisions, each region of Guatemala produces its own unique coffee bean with a specific flavor profile.
Each unique trait from each coffee-producing region has created certain expectations around Guatemalan coffee. Most people who drink Guatemalan Coffee expect a clean, well-balanced cup of coffee with a good body.
But you will find that each region’s coffee will taste different from each other, and you may need to try a few region’s coffees to find your favorite coffee beans. So, let us look at some of the most popular coffee-growing regions in Guatemala to help you find one that suits your tastes.
This region is by far the most famous coffee goring region in Guatemala. This lovely little town is located in a valley that is surrounded by three volcanos; these are the Fuego volcano, the Acatenango volcano, and the Agua volcano.
And the Fuego volcano is still an active volcano and sprays a lot of ash and debris from it regularly. This is why this region is famous for its coffee, as when the Fuego volcano erupts, it spreads new and fertile ash over Antigua’s soil.
This fertile ash is suitable for the coffee crops grown in the region as the soil in this town is some of the world’s most fertile and nutrient-dense soil. This layer of ash adds in more nutrients to the soil and retains moisture well, meaning that when there is low rainfall, the crops planted in this ash-covered soil are kept hydrated.
So, the rich and fertile soil, the low humidity levels, the cloudless days, and the cool night air gives this region some of the best climate conditions for growing coffee plants. The Coffee from Antigua is a light to medium-bodied coffee; it has a velvety, rich flavor and medium acidity with a slightly spicy flavor.
Acatenango Valley is a coffee-growing region that is just west of the town of Antigua. The coffee that is grown in this region is grown on steep slopes on the mountainside, up to about 6561 feet (2000 meters) high in altitude.
This region grows its coffee plants in the shade of the mountain, and this region’s soil is still within range of the Fuego volcano, so it also gets a layer of fertile ash spared over it when the volcano erupts, enriching the soil with nutrients and keeping the land fertile for years.
Acatenango Valley is a relatively new region to be designated as a distinct coffee-growing region by the CGAUA (Coffee-Growers Association of United Acatenango). This designation was achieved in the region in 2012.
The Coban region in Guatemala is a rainforest with a climate of rain and only rain; this region gets its name from in the original language, which is Maya Kekchi. This means “place of clouds,” which is defiantly suitable for a place where it hardly stops raining.
The Rainforest Coban is located in north-central Guatemala, and Coban’s Coffee exhibits many qualities that are found in all the good Central American coffees on the market today.
The coffee produced in Coban is a medium to full body coffee that has a light, fruity acidity to it and has it has a rich flavor with subtle hints of spice. The coffee from this region is also perfect for wine and coffee lovers as it has some lovely lingering notes of wine that make this coffee even more enticing.
The Traditional Atitlan region in Guatemala is known to produce coffee with a full-body, a lovely, intense aroma, and a slight citrusy acidity that leaves a delightful and refreshing aftertaste.
The coffee that is produced from this region is grown in the mountains surrounding the lake named Atitlan. The coffee is generally grown at an altitude of between 4921 and 6561.68 feet (1500 and 2000 meters).
The lake that it by these coffee farms creates a cool wind that blows up the mountain. This cool wind helps keep the soil moist and the plants happy. This cool wind, along with the 62.9 to 78.7 inches (1600 to 2000 mm) of rain that falls every year, ensures that the coffee plants are kept in the perfect conditions suitable for a large harvest.
The Highland Huehue region in Guatemala is one of the most remote regions in the country. This region is also one of Guatemala’s non-volcanic regions, of which there are only three. Of these three non-volcanic regions, Huehue is the highest and the driest region.
As the hot and dry winds blow up from the valley floor below Huehue, this region is pretty protected from frost. This allows the coffee plants to thrive in the high altitude of this region. The location of this region that allows for high altitudes and a warm climate has resulted in one of the most spectacular coffee varieties in Guatemala.
The coffee beans produced in this region have a light and somewhat buttery body to them, and they have a lovely floral aroma with a clean and pleasant finish that lingers softly on the palate.
The region of Fraijanes Plateau in Guatemala is well known for producing some of the best coffee from this country. The coffee from this region has bright and persistent acidity, with a well-defined body that is perfect on the palate.
This coffee region is home to one of Guatemala’s most active volcanos, known as Pacaya Volcano. As this volcano is still highly active, it helps create mineral-rich soil in the region that ensures strong coffee plants and a large harvest.
This region also gets between 47 and 70.8 inches (1200 and 1800 mm) of rainfall every year, and it is grown at an altitude of between 4593 and 5905 feet (1400 and 1800 meters), which, as we have mentioned earlier, offers some of the best weather conditions to grow coffee plants in. The coffee that is grown in this region is generally harvested in the December to February harvesting period.
Volcanic San Marcos
The region of San Marcos in Guatemala is close to a few volcanos, which give it the nickname of Volcanic San Marcos. It provides this region with great fertile soil, rich with minerals and nutrients, with excellent moisture retention.
The coffee produced in this region is a delicate coffee with a good body and lovely floral notes that come through with every sip. This coffee also offers a pronounced acidity that is pleasant on the tongue and will keep you wanting more.
The San Marcos region gets the highest amount of rainfall in the entire country, as this region gets between 118 and 196 inches (3000 and 5000 mm) of rainfall every year.
The seasonal rains in this region come earlier than in other parts of the country, meaning that San Marcos has an earlier harvest than most other areas. Most of the coffee farms in this area are between the altitude of 4265 and 5905 feet (1300 and 1800 meters).
The New Oriente region of Guatemala is located on the border with El Salvador and Honduras. It produces lovely coffee beans that are defiantly a must-try if you can get your hands on them, that is, as they are popular coffee beans. Or you could wait to try them when you go and visit Guatemala in person.
The New Oriente region has its climate affected by the Atlantic Ocean, which slightly affects the flavor of the coffee beans produced here. This region is a mountainous region that tends to have a lot of cloud cover during the day, which aids in keeping the soil moist for the coffee plants.
This area does have a fair amount of rain, with between 62.9 and 78.7 inches (1600 and 2000 mm) of rainfall every year. The coffee farms are usually between an altitude of 4265 and 5577 feet (1300 and 1700 meters).
The coffee is generally harvested from December to March, and the coffee produced here is well balanced, with a full body and some hints of chocolate.
The Flavor Profile Of Guatemalan Coffee
As we can see, the biggest thing that sets Guatemala’s Coffee apart from other counties’ coffees is the vast diversity of the coffees. There are defiantly clear flavor differences in the coffees that are produced in the different regions in Guatemala.
For example, the coffee produced in Antigua has crisp, apple-like acidity to it with some sweet floral notes and aromas. But the coffee that is produced in Coban has mild acidity and sweet fruity flavors.
Although, with Guatemalan coffee beans, you can be sure that you will always get a delicious, rich, and good-bodied cup of coffee that will leave you satisfied.
What To Pair Guatemalan Coffee With
With such great coffees, you would want to pair them well with your meals throughout your day to ensure you get the best possible flavors out of your Guatemalan Coffee and the food. Thankfully, there are several good pairings you can do with Guatemalan Coffee to suit every taste; let us have a look at some.
- Poultry is an excellent pairing for Guatemalan Coffee as well as other central American coffees
- Dark chocolate goes well with Guatemalan Coffee, especially Coffee from New Oriente
- Chocolate cake pairs well with Guatemalan coffees
- Caramel Flan will go exceptionally well with all Guatemalan coffees
Fun Facts About Guatemalan Coffee
Now that you have read through most of the things you should know about Guatemalan Coffee, you may still be looking for some fast facts and more knowledge about this country’s coffee, so here are some fun facts for you.
- Guatemala is the 10th largest coffee producing country in the world
- In 2019, Guatemala produced over 3,3 million bags of coffee
- Coffee in Guatemala accounts for 40% of all the agricultural exports in the country
- This country has some of the best coffee growing conditions in the world
- Guatemala almost exclusively produces Arabica coffee beans
The 6 Best Guatemalan Coffee Beans
With the number of different coffee beans being produced in Guatemala, finding the right coffee beans for your tastes can be challenging. Below is a list of the best Guatemalan coffee beans that you can get. There are some different roasts in the list to cater to different preferences.
Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry Coffee
This coffee brand is a company that is dedicated to bringing its customers freshly roasted premium coffees that are from volcanic lands, so Guatemalan Coffee defiantly fits this requirement.
This coffee is a sweeter specialty coffee and a more flavorful coffee made from the rare Peaberry. This coffee is a medium roasted coffee with a strong fragrance, a smooth and rich body, and some cocoa and brown spice notes.
The flavor of this coffee is bright, clean, and well-balanced, with a lovely aftertaste of juicy, sweet strawberries.
Coopers Cask Guatemalan Coffee Beans
Coopers Cask Guatemalan coffee beans are specifically selected and roasted to make the best cold brew. You can indeed use any coffee to make cold brew, but if you use coffee beans like these ones that are specifically made for it, you will never go back.
These lovely coffee beans are a perfect medium roast, making the coffee smooth with a deliciously sweet flavor profile. This coffee has great notes of creamy caramel, milk chocolate, and orange. If you want coffee beans to make a perfect summer treat of iced coffee, then these are the best coffee beans to use.
Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Coffee Beans
These coffee beans are from the same company that makes the coffee at the top of this list, but it’s challenging to try and pick a favorite when it comes to this brand as all the coffee beans are top quality and explode with flavor.
These coffee beans are an intense dark roast, which brings out the coffee’s smoky notes and earthy, deep caramel flavor. These coffee beans will leave you wanting more as their aftertaste brings you some spicy overtones, which brings the coffee to a different level.
Fresh Roast Coffee Huehue Coffee Beans
These coffee beans are from the Highlands of the Huehue region in Guatemala. This specialty coffee is an entirely different experience from other coffees, even other Guatemalan coffees. This coffee is sustainably sourced, Fairtrade certified, and certified organic.
These coffee beans are medium roasted and have a mild but velvety smooth body, and they have some hints of milk chocolate with some hints of sweet orange as a finish, making these beans well-balanced in their flavor. The coffee beans have a mild but slightly citrusy acidity that helps fight off some of the sweetness.
Peet’s Coffee Guatemalan
These coffee beans are from the San Marcos region of Guatemala. The coffee beans that you get from Peet’s Coffee are high quality and packed with flavor. These coffee beans are a medium roast, but they are pretty potent and intense, so if you like a light coffee, these beans are not for you.
But these coffee beans do have an enticing balance of flavors with a lovely sweet and milky chocolate taste, with some hints of fruitiness and a smooth body. If you can handle a strong coffee, then this is defiantly a must-try.
Two Volcanoes Coffee Gourmet Guatemalan Coffee
Two Volcanos coffee is a company that focuses on providing the best Guatemalan coffee it can to its customers. This company even grow their coffee beans at an estate in the region of San Marcos.
These coffee beans get roasted in small batches, which allows them to stay fresh and always have a consistent flavor. The coffee beans are a medium roast with a floral and nutty flavor with a mild sweetness and a silky full body with low acidity. These coffee beans are worth the money.
Guatemalan Coffee is some of the best coffee you can get. Each coffee grown and produced in different regions of the country has a different and unique flavor. Guatemala has the perfect growing conditions for the coffee plant to thrive, making the coffee higher in quality. If you get Guatemalan Coffee, then you know you are in for a treat.