Coffee production began in the late 1700’s although Guatemala wasn’t a major coffee player until the mid 1800’s. Other agricultural crops like indigo that was once promising lost economic profitability for the country. As other crops faded, coffee rose in production. The government took control of public lands to expand coffee farming by the late 1800’s. Today coffee is the largest exporting commodity in Guatemala.
The main regions consist of:
Huehuetenango (west region) is in the non-volcanic area but in the highest parts of Guatemala. Coffee tends to be more fruity and floral due to the high elevation and less rainfall compared to other areas. Harvest is usually later than most parts because of the higher altitude as well.
Coban is primarily a rainforest with plentiful amounts of rainfall and humidity. These coffees can take on more body and balanced tastes. Some can be spicy flavors in this region too. The rugged terrain and access to the market give this region greater challenges to move coffee around. Most coffee farms are smaller here than in other areas of Guatemala.
The Antiqua region is the most renowned coffee hot spot. It was the first area to start coffee production. Lots of high-quality coffee is grown here because of the rich soil. There are three volcanic mountains in the Antigua region. At Banyan Coffee we get asked a lot about Kona coffee from Hawaii. We always tell our coffee drinkers to try our Guatemala coffee because it can take on similar taste profiles because of the volcanic soil that both Guatemala and Kona coffee share. This is one of our most popular coffees that we sell due its flavor. It is so popular that rumors began that coffee farmers in other regions would ship their beans to this location so they could sell it for a more desirable price. The weather also helps develop the coffee bean by cool and dry climate. With very low humidity the region provides a unique flavor that is distinct from other parts of the country. This gives an excellent sweet, chocolate, and nutty taste profile.
San Marco is the hottest and has the most rainfall of the Guatemala regions. The harvest season is usually earlier because of the climate in San Marco. Two volcanoes give rich soil to this area to create unique flavors to the San Marco region. Nutty, full body, and smooth coffee are the general taste characteristics.
These are just a few regions of Guatemala that produce great coffee. We will continue to explore more coffee not just from Guatemala but throughout the world. Stay tuned for our next coffee blog destination! Feel free to checkout our current Guatemala coffee below.