Insider Tips on Guatemalan Coffee: History, Taste, & More

137756906_c17ca6bcb0Photo by Antigua Daily Photo

Guatemala is a popular coffee producing region in Latin America located east of Mexico and west of Honduras. It ranks second in the world in regards to the amount of high-grade coffee it produces and has the highest percentage of its crop classified as “high quality” by world-wide buyers. More than half of Guatemala’s coffee ends up being exported to the U.S. and represents around 15% of their Gross National Product.

History

During the 1800’s in Europe, the invention of chemical dyes led to a collapse in the export market for Guatemala’s indigo and cochinel. Coffee was then developed as an export crop to take their place and supported by the government through preferential tax and trade treatment. By 1859, over half a million coffee trees were planted around Coban, San Marcos, Antigua and Conan and about 100 pound bags were exported to Europe.

Growing Regions/ Growing Processes 

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Photo by Guatemalan Gourmet Products

Guatemala’s growing regions, include Atitlan, the Fraijanes Plateau, Rainforest Coban, Highland Huehuetenango, Nuevo Oriente, Volcan San Marcos, and Antigua. The mild subtropical climate in Guatemala, combined with well-drained volcanic soils, produces a mild coffee with distinctive characteristics of flavor and aroma.

Coffee grown in Guatemala is typically washed (also known as wet-processed). Wet-processed coffee means the fruit covering the beans has been removed before they go through the drying process, using a method that requires large quantities of water.

Taste

Guatemalan coffees tend to have a full or medium body with rich flavor, but the coffee has different qualities depending on the region. Coffees grown in the Antigua or Atitlan regions located in the countries central highlands exhibit a floral acidity often found spicy or chocolaty in taste.

Coffees grown in mountain areas exposed to the Caribbean or Pacific Ocean are likely to be less acidic. These coffees will tend to have more of a fruity flavor.

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Photo by Caffe Vita

With over half of Guatemala’s coffee exported to the U.S., there are many places to try and purchase this wonderful coffee, but here is somewhere you can find the freshest selection of Guatemalan coffees.