Coffee

Guatemalan Coffee: They’ve Got The Right Stuff!

Guatemalan Coffee

Antigua has a diverse terrain in the highlands of Guatemala. Rainfall can total about thirty-nine inches by the end of the wet season. The area easily creates a refreshing setting for the cultivation of Guatemalan coffee beans.

Just south of Mexico, this country was for a time the epicenter of the Maya civilization. Many indigenous tribes still survive to this day in the area. Also, many of them make a living by growing some of the finest coffee in all of Central America. This happens without them speaking a lick of Spanish.

This small country boasts one of the most climatically diverse regions in the world. The soil, rainfall, humidity, altitude, and temperature are different enough to produce seven distinct types of Guatemala Arabica coffee. Yes, the selection is pretty excellent. Also, during harvest season, when crops are gathered, there is an abundance.

WHAT I RECOMMEND

Top Pick
Geisha
San Marcos Smallholder Farms
In the wild of Ethiopia, rare and ancient coffee is found. Indulge in the notes of Mandarin, Bergamont, and Jasmine. This bean is ideal for those who want a solid yet balanced cup of coffee.
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Runner-Up
Guatemalan Peaberry
Amazingly Fragrant and Aromatic
Peaberry coffee beans have a rich flavor. Peaberry is found in 5% of the crop and is of more refined quality than the rest. This medium roast has strawberry, bright, and balanced flavor notes.
Buy Peaberry
Also Great
Guatemalan Coffee Gift Box
Gift A Coffee Lover Today
Enjoy great artisan coffee from the world’s best Guatemalan roasters. This irresistable four-pack gift set includes: Antigua, Geisha, Peaberry, and Organic Huehuetenango.
Buy Coffee Gift Box

Marked as a biodiversity hotspot, Guatemala is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is an intensely green country with breathtaking sights and incredible and exotic wildlife. Also, the Guatemala Geisha Coffee is grown on San Marcos Smallholder Farms. No wonder it tastes so good.

Guatemala Peaberry Coffee is praised for having the best of both worlds. It is a mild body that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. However, it has a beautiful depth of flavor untouched by other coffee-growing regions. Peaberry coffee tastes better because its rounder bean shape allows it to roast more evenly and absorb heat better.

If you know someone who isn’t a fully functioning human until after their first sip of freshly-brewed coffee, then I have the perfect gift idea for you. The Guatemalan Coffee Gift Box is ideal for picky coffee lovers. Your friends, family, workmates, and colleagues will appreciate these thoughtful and practical coffees. So, go ahead and splurge on essential people in your life with Antigua, Geisha, Peaberry, and Organic Huehuetenango coffee.

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WHY YOU CAN TRUST ME

I’m Sherry Harris, a seasoned coffee writer who has been brewing and tasting coffee from around the world for decades.

I work hard to serve my readers as a trusted go-to resource for almost everything related to coffee and the best-tested products you can buy. As a coffee enthusiast, published content is fact-checked periodically.

Also, it’s reviewed to ensure the information provided is accurate and up-to-date. This way, you can make better-informed buying decisions about the best coffee and coffee equipment without being a trained barista. In addition, I regularly consult baristas and coffee experts for insights and analysis. Featured products are independently researched, tested, or editor-approved. I only recommend products that I stand behind.

In addition, I’ve written multiple guides for coffee equipment, including Coffee Shop Lady’s guide to the espresso machine.

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WHO THIS IS FOR

If you understand the benefits of coffee grown at an altitude of over 5,000 feet, then this article review is for you. Guatemala has a distinctive growing region. Also, the country has an ideal environment for growing flavorsome coffee beans between a mild subtropical climate and nutrient-rich volcanic soil.

beans grown at high altitude

If you like flavor notes that consist of diverse, crisp acidity, chocolate and spice flavors, floral aromas, and medium body, you’ll love the coffees I recommend. Does that sound like you? Keep reading!

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Best Three Guatemalan Coffee Brands

The production of green coffee in Guatemala amounted to approximately 3.77 million 60-kilogram bags in 2019. Green coffee production in the country has increased in the previous three years. Also, the United States, Japan, and Canada continue to be the top export markets. Consumption of local coffee represents 13 percent of the country’s production. Further, roasted ground coffee is about 70% of the consumption.

Why are there so many great coffee farmers in this country? ANACAFE, the Federation of Guatemalan Coffee Cooperatives, and other coffee associations have established a coffee school. Anyone, group, or association can learn how to prepare gourmet coffees.

Do you want to experience the full flavor and aroma of authentic coffee from Guatemala? If so, keep reading. Below I have three excellent brand suggestions for you.

Guatemala Geisha Coffee (Top-Pick)

The Guatemala Geisha Coffee, sometimes called the Coffee of the Kings, is a unique and expensive coffee of rare and ancient origin. Also, smallholder farms cultivate single-origin coffee.  One farm is found in San Miguel, Guatemala, which has an elevation of up to 5,500 feet. Further, Guatemala is known for its rainforest vegetation.

Coffee beans are harvested from the main stem and left on the trees to grow for a year before they are picked and roasted. After roasting, the coffee undergoes the “browning” process, wherein the beans’ original color has been inverted. Next, it goes through a series of steps, including drying, heating, then grinding, all of which produce a cup with an incredible intensity of flavor.

It’s been a long time coming…

Unfortunately, it took some time for this unique flavor to be recognized internationally. However, it is now commonly available and considered a premium brew.

A visit to Guayaquil can be very fulfilling, especially for coffee lovers, as it gives them a chance to taste this fresh brew. As coffee grows in the many smaller coffee-producing countries worldwide, it takes a lot of hard work to keep up with the quality of coffee produced every day. So, don’t forget to experience the exciting taste of Guatemala Geisha coffee.

Geisha

Social and economic inequality is widespread among indigenous people in Guatemala. For decades, Guatemala’s coffee exports were dominated by foreign-owned plantations rather than small coffee farms. What did this mean for small producers?

  • Exporters took advantage of the farmers.
  • Prices for crops were low.
  • Many farmers were often in poverty.

That’s why many co-operatives and small coffee producers team up, like the 20,000 small coffee producers who market their coffee through the Federación de Pequeños Productores de Café de Guatemala. Moreover, this organization gives farmers better access to global and direct trade as well as fair trade.

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Guatemala Peaberry Coffee (Runner-Up)

Peaberry is very rare. Why? Nature has to concentrate the flavor of two coffee beans into one. A regular coffee cherry produces two coffee beans. A peaberry is a unique bean that has grown a single coffee cherry. Further, approximately three out of every 100 coffee beans is a peaberry.

Peaberries are the only seed inside the coffee cherries; they tend to be denser than their two-seeded counterparts. These characteristics can affect the flavor. Professional coffee graders believe that single peaberry beans receive all of the nutrients of the coffee cherry rather than sharing with another seed. As a result, peaberries have more caffeine and taste sweeter.

Peaberry

amazon ad system

These single-origin peaberry coffee beans are roasted fresh and immediately packaged. You will experience fresh coffee every time with this brand. To keep the coffee fresh, their bags are resealable and feature a one-way valve to squeeze out the unwanted air.

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Guatemalan Coffee Gift Box (Also Great)

Whether you’re looking for gifts for business clients, workmates, employees, family, friends, bride-to-be, or your best friend, this coffee gift box will delight gift-givers and recipients alike.  Enjoy this delectable coffee gift basket, which is filled with selections of the finest brews from Guatemala.

Coffee Gift Box

Coffee is a marvelous treat that can take a dull morning and make it feel special. This gift basket will delight the coffee lovers in your life. So go ahead, indulge your recipient!

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Noteworthy Competition

Guatemala Antigua

Volcanica Coffee is one of the most prominent coffee distributors. Their business started with frequent trips back to their homeland in Costa Rica. After much research, they realized what made coffee so great. They learned the best varieties are in volcanic mountain elevations above 3,000 feet. This is also where volcanic soil, cool climate, and moisture from the clouds nourish the coffee plants. The company found there was no difference when it came to the best Guatemalan coffee too. This coffee has a rich and sophisticated flavor, with nutty and smoky flavor notes with a bittersweet nose and overall deep flavor and aroma.

Guatemala Antigua Reserve Coffee

This single-origin coffee is 100% organic. It has flavor notes of deep caramel, earthiness, and smoke. In addition to being certified Kosher, it is also Rainforest Alliance Certified. These certifications protect wildlife and the environment. Also, this dark roast coffee is from the private Finca Medina Estate. The estate has a reputation for its rich, full-bodied coffee with sophisticated flavor.

Kirkland Signature Coffee

This whole bean medium roast coffee is from the Lake Atitlan region. Atitlán means “between the waters.” Lake Atitlán is a lake in Guatemala with a maximum depth of about 1,120 feet with an average depth of 720 feet. Also, its surface area is 50.2 square miles. Atitlán is an endorheic lake, feeding into two nearby rivers rather than draining into the ocean. In addition, it is shaped by deep surrounding escarpments and three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago. The Maya people influence the culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán. The lake is about 31 miles west-northwest of Antigua.

Also, Kirkland coffee has a dark, smokey taste to it.

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History of Coffee in Guatemala

The arrival of coffee in Guatemala happened in the mid-1700s. However, the Mayan people in Guatemala have been facing a permanent crisis for centuries. Once the Spaniards arrived, it disrupted indigenous ways of life.

The Spanish crown awarded large swaths of land to settlers. What had been traditional Mayan lands became large estates. Sadly, the indigenous people had no choice but to work on these estates. Throughout the colonial period, different laws around land tenure drove indigenous people off their land. At other times, it converted them into “residents” of the new plantations.

The invention of chemical dyes happened in Europe in the 1800s. As a result, the export market for Guatemala’s indigo and cochineal collapsed. So, coffee as an export crop took its place.

The government supported this through preferential trade and tax treatment. By 1859, coffee farmers had planted over a half-million coffee trees for export to Europe. The following year, production tripled.

Why Buy Coffee From Guatemala?

Guatemala is the Mecca for coffee farmers. Also, it’s a unique growing region. It has a mild subtropical climate as well as nutrient-rich volcanic soil. This combination is an ideal environment for growing delicious coffee beans.

Also, other brands like La Promesa Guatemalan coffee are rising. It’s another single source specialty-grade medium roast Arabica coffee with notes of milk chocolate, honey, and fruit. Why I’m watching this brand? Every bag of La Promesa Coffee promises environmental, social, and economic sustainability for the small-scale women farmers who produce it.

Flavor Profile

A big part of what makes Guatemalan coffee so fascinating is its diversity. Different regions have different flavor profiles. Let’s stick with the four most extensive areas of specialty coffee growers.

  • Antigua — Guatemala’s southern highlands region is filled with active volcanoes. As a result, coffee grown in Antigua has crisp apple-like acidity, sweet floral notes, and deep chocolate flavors.
  • Huehuetenango — This northern highlands region features a unique microclimate that gives coffee a winey acidity and rich, sweet flavors.
  • Atitlan — Coffee grown around Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes tends to have a full-body, pleasant acidity, rich floral aromas, and complex spice notes.
  • Coban — This subtropical rainforest region produces coffees that often feature mild acidity, medium body, and sweet fruity flavors.

Guatemalan coffee is full of fruit notes like prunes, apples, and bananas, among other flavors. Also, it is low in acidity thanks to being cultivated in high altitudes and treated organically.

Finally, this coffee has a sweet nose, with a robust sweet aroma of dark chocolate and caramel. The smell certainly fills up the room whenever you make yourself a cup.

Guatemalan Coffee Culture

Guatemala didn’t know good coffee until relatively recently. About ten years ago, inspired by the international coffee culture, coffee shops start popping up. Also, they recreated the same style as other coffee shops around the world.  Further, they serve high-quality drinks, fresh coffee, and the like.

Before 2010, Guatemalan coffee culture consisted mainly of consuming beans that didn’t make it to the auction. A traditional drink favored in rural homes and among older people is watered-down coffee.

Coffee is brewed using a cloth method similar to a pour-over or with a French press. Today, Guatemala makes cutting-edge coffee and attracts the attention of baristas worldwide.

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FAQs

Where to buy Guatemalan coffee?

I recommend the following three: Guatemala Geisha Coffee, Guatemala Peaberry Coffee, and Guatemalan Coffee Gift Box.

What desserts pair well with Guatemalan coffee?

According to Spruce Eats, full-bodied coffees from Guatemala pair beautifully with dark chocolate brownies. Chocolate cake is excellent with most medium- or dark-roasted coffees, but it is delicious with chocolaty Guatemalans.

How fine a grind for Guatemalan coffee pour-over?

It would be best to ground your coffee beans to the consistency of fine sea salt or table salt.

How to brew Guatemalan coffee?

The method most often used to make coffee in Guatemala is boiling the grounds in a regular coffee pot. Fill the lower chamber with water. Next, fill the filter with coffee grounds, and place it on the stovetop. Within minutes, your coffee is ready. Remove from heat and enjoy. Of course, you can add sugar to taste.

Final Thoughts on Guatemalan Coffee

Making that perfect cup of coffee with your favorite Guatemalan coffee brands just got a bit easier. All you need to do is choose your favorite based on your preferred taste and facts found in the article. Now, it’s only a matter of ordering. Have fun!

Further Reading

Sources

thespruceeats.com/pairing-coffee-and-food-765585
minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-pour-over-coffee
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Atitlan

Avatar for Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.