Guatemala’s Coffee: 7 Essential Insider Tips For Purchasing And Brewing Guatemala’s Exquisite Coffee

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Guatemala's Coffee

Guatemala’s Coffee:Explore our comprehensive guide to discover valuable insights about Guatemalan coffee, perfect for those eager to enhance their knowledge in this flavorful realm.

Central America boasts some of the finest coffee globally, with Guatemala standing out as a top choice for enthusiasts. Renowned for its well-balanced profile, Guatemalan coffee offers a full-bodied, robust, and sweet taste complemented by subtle acidity and intricate flavor undertones. Its broad appeal makes it a favorite among diverse coffee drinkers, ensuring there’s a brew to suit every palate.

Essential Insights into Guatemalan Coffee

It’s remarkable how this region produces an abundance of exceptional coffee beans. Among them are Galapagos Coffee, Costa Rican, Dominican Coffee, Honduras Coffee, El Salvadoran coffee, and Nicaraguan coffee. However, Guatemalan coffee is hailed as the crown jewel of Central American coffee production. But what makes it stand out?

Let’s begin by exploring some intriguing aspects of Guatemalan coffee.

The Coffee Legacy of Guatemala

Coffee arrived in Guatemala in the mid-1700s as ornamental plants. It wasn’t until the 1860s, due to the decline of the natural dye industry, that coffee production surged to save the economy. The government encouraged coffee plantations, making coffee the country’s main export. In 1960, coffee growers formed Anacafé (Asosiación Nacional del Café), responsible for marketing, research, and aiding farmers. Anacafé introduced the Anacafe-14 coffee plant variety in 2014. With over 125,000 producers, reaching all farms remains a challenge.

The Nation Benefits from Exceptional Growing Conditions

Guatemala boasts one of the world’s most diverse climates for coffee cultivation, offering ideal conditions for various growing regions. With seven primary growing areas, including Antigua, Huehuetenango, and Atitlan, each zone presents distinct microclimates and growing conditions.

Antigua, situated on volcanic slopes, receives ample sunlight and minimal rainfall, yielding unique flavor profiles. Huehuetenango, near the Mexican border, features elevations ranging from 5000 to 6000 feet, resulting in complex and fruity notes.

In the Atitlan region, coffee thrives in volcanic soil surrounding Lake Atitlan, where organic fertilization is common, producing nutty and chocolaty flavors. Other notable regions include the Fraijanes Plateau, Rainforest Cobán, Volcan San Marcos, and Oriente, each offering its own blend of climatic influences and flavor characteristics.

What Are The Most Favorable Processing Techniques?

Guatemala, with its ample rainfall and high humidity, predominantly favors wet processing methods for coffee production. The prevalence of water in the region makes natural processing impractical, as the high humidity disrupts the natural drying process. Consequently, it’s rare to find naturally processed Guatemalan coffee beans.

Wet processing is preferred by both farmers and consumers due to its consistency and ability to accentuate the inherent acidity of the coffee beans.

Taste Profile of Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemalan coffee is celebrated for its inherent sweetness, boasting a medium to full body and abundant chocolate undertones. Expect a delightful spectrum of flavors, ranging from bittersweet cocoa to creamy milk chocolate, often accompanied by hints of nuts and toffee. Some aficionados even detect a subtle smokiness in the beans. Particularly, coffee grown at higher altitudes, like in Huehuetenango, offers a vibrant array of taste notes, spanning from berry-like acidity to refreshing hints of green apple and citrus zest.

Notable Mentions

For an authentic taste of Guatemalan coffee, consider beans sourced from these prominent regions:


Antigua stands out as one of Guatemala’s oldest coffee regions, boasting longstanding coffee estates that have been cherished through generations. These farms are renowned for their meticulous management practices, resulting in top-tier coffee beans. Antigua coffees typically feature a full-bodied profile, accompanied by rich sweetness and subtle acidity. Indulge in decadent chocolate flavors intertwined with delicate fruity undertones.


Situated at some of the highest altitudes in Guatemala, Huehuetenango yields beans characterized by vibrant acidity and lively flavors. Expect a medium-bodied brew with pronounced sweetness, complemented by a distinct acidity reminiscent of fruits. Huehuetenango coffees offer a unique experience akin to Ethiopian varieties, albeit with a more substantial body.

Exploring the Present Coffee Landscape of Guatemala

Guatemala is undergoing significant transitions, with rural residents increasingly relocating to urban areas in pursuit of education and better job opportunities. This migration is driving urban expansion, encroaching even on lands once dedicated to coffee farming. Despite these shifts, Guatemala remains a key player in the global coffee market, ranking as the 10th largest coffee producer worldwide, with a significant portion exported to the US.

During the 2016/2017 harvest, Guatemala yielded approximately 3.32 million bags of coffee, marking a 10% rise from the previous season. However, this output fell short of initial forecasts due to the widespread incidence of roya, a fungal disease devastating coffee trees.

Despite such challenges, Guatemala’s coffee industry maintains resilience, boasting a considerable volume of high-quality coffee coveted by international buyers. Nevertheless, poverty persists among a significant portion of the population, prompting many to seek seasonal employment on coffee farms during harvest periods to supplement their meager incomes.

Optimal Brewing Techniques

When it comes to coffee from Guatemala, two key aspects stand out: its flavor and acidity, or its body and sweetness.

Pour Over Method

For accentuating the acidity and flavor notes of Guatemalan coffee, the pour-over method is ideal. Especially with a lightly roasted coffee, using a pour-over setup typically yields exceptional results.

French Press Method

For those leaning towards a darker roast or aiming to accentuate the body and inherent sweetness of the coffee, the French Press method stands out.

This immersion brewing technique allows the coffee grounds to linger in the water for an extended duration, drawing out more sweetness and delivering a rich, robust body in the end product. However, it’s crucial to avoid over-extraction by monitoring the brewing time closely to prevent a bitter taste.

Cold Brew

Given the typical profile of Guatemalan beans—characterized by a full body, pronounced sweetness, and moderate acidity—cold brew emerges as an excellent choice. The prolonged steeping period effectively extracts the coffee’s inherent sweetness and body, resulting in a potent and invigorating cold beverage.

Where to Find the Finest Guatemalan Coffee

When purchasing coffee online, it’s crucial to vet the source. Sadly, subpar beans are all too common in the digital marketplace. For peace of mind and quality assurance, consider these reputable options:

1. Volcanica Coffee: Known for their commitment to freshness, Volcanica offers two exceptional Guatemalan options—Antigua and Peaberry. These beans are roasted to order, ensuring a truly authentic and flavorful experience.

2. Peace Coffee Guatemala Dark Roast: This selection stands out for its dedication to ethical sourcing. Sourced from the Apecaform Cooperative in Guatemala’s Pueblo Nuevo, these beans are 100% USDA certified organic and Fair Trade. The dark roast boasts a delightful blend of bittersweet chocolate and tart cherry notes, making it a premium choice for coffee connoisseurs.

Choosing the Perfect Roast

Guatemalan coffee beans offer a versatile canvas for various roast styles. Light to medium roasts unveil a full-bodied cup with bright flavor notes, including hints of apple and orange complemented by chocolate undertones.

Darker roasts of Guatemalan beans yield a satisfyingly smooth brew. Their inherent sweetness and full body withstand the darker roast, resulting in flavors of bittersweet chocolate and toasted nuts.

Some Guatemalan beans may even carry a subtle spicy flavor, which persists through the darker roasting process, adding depth to the cup.

Guatemala’s Coffee: Delight in Your Coffee Experience

Guatemala is renowned for its volcanoes, lakes, and exceptional coffee. The country’s diverse microclimates and growing conditions result in a wide variety of coffee profiles. We eagerly anticipate the continued growth and development of Guatemala’s coffee industry, which consistently produces outstanding coffee.

Do you have a favorite coffee region in Guatemala? Share your thoughts in the comments below!