Guatemala is responsible for producing a large percentage of the coffee grown in Central America as well as consistently holding a spot in the top 10 coffee-producing countries in the world. Perhaps this is due to its ideal growing conditions and the fact that it produces crowd-pleasing coffee in 8 distinct regions throughout the country, allowing room for thousands of coffee farms.
Brief History of Guatemalan Coffee Production
Guatemala has not always been known for its coffee growing. At a time when the country was suffering financially, coffee became the saving grace that was needed to bring stability to the people once again. Before the rise of Guatemalan coffee growing, the production and exportation of natural dyes was the leading industry in Guatemala. When synthetic dyes came on the scene in the mid-1800’s, the economy plummeted and the country desperately needed a new crop to export. Here, they turned to coffee. They quickly became one of the top coffee producing countries in the world, exporting well over half of their crop to the U.S.
There are 8 main growing regions throughout Guatemala, all with a variety of climates, elevations, soil types, and other variables that give the different beans their unique flavor profiles and characteristics. Below is a brief description of each of the 8 growing regions.
|Acatenango Valley||Situated in a high-climate, densely shaded area not far from the Fuego Volcano, this region has nutrient-rich soil due to the volcanic movement, making it ideal for coffee growth.|
|Antigua Coffee||Nearby to Acatenango is Antigua, which is located near not one, but three volcanoes, giving it even richer soil for tree growth. This region is one of the most popular growing regions in the country.|
|Atitlán||Another region surrounded by volcanoes, Atitlán also has the added benefit of a nearby lake, which contributes to the richness of the soil and ideal coffee growing conditions.|
|Cobán||This region’s rainforest-like conditions, high humidity, dense cloud coverage, and high precipitation lead to a coffee distinctly different than its volcanic region neighbors. Coffee grown here has a higher acidity and more fruity flavors|
|Nuevo Oriente||Similar to Cobán, Nuevo Oriente is covered by clouds and experiences high levels of precipitation. It also has the benefit of nutrient-rich soil due to the volcano located nearby. This region is saturated with coffee farms.|
|Fraijanes Plateau||This region has a good balance of rain and sun, varied humidity levels, soil that benefits from volcanic ash, and a high elevation. Just as conditions are balanced and ideal, the resulting beans are balanced and full-bodied.|
|San Marcos||This is the warmest region in the country, but also the region that experiences the highest levels of rainfall. Most farmers have to finish drying their coffee beans in a machine rather than fully sun-dried due to the frequent rainfall.|
|Huehuetenango||This is the country’s highest region in elevation as well as the warmest, with the least amount of rainfall. It is surrounded by rivers and streams, which aide farmers in the processing of beans.|
Due to the varied regions around Guatemala, there are many opportunities for unique characteristics to be highlighted in the different coffees around the country. In general, coffee from Guatemala is known to be rich and full-bodied. Depending on the location, elevation, and exposure to moisture, the coffees will be more or less acidic.
The success of Guatemalan coffee will likely continue to rise as the unique and varied growing conditions make it an ideal location for the production of this popular crop.