Guatemala Coffee and Culture
Guatemalan coffee beans are grown in seven main regions and each has very unique growing conditions and microclimates.
1. Guatemala Antigua coffee
One of the most popular growing areas is Antigua, which also so happens to be home to some of the oldest coffee estates in the country. Guatemala Antigua coffee is prized because of its complex flavour with a hint of cocoa, which can be attributed to the rich soil from the three volcanoes that surround the valley in which the beans are grown.
2. Rainforest Coban
Rainforest Coban with its humid and subtropical climate is a notable coffee growing area. The clay and limestone soil provides a fertile bed for plants to thrive, whereas the climate which is largely affected by the Atlantic Ocean provides warm, yet humid temperatures that coffee plants love.
3. Volcan San Marcos
Volcan San Marcos is the wettest and warmest growing region, which means that they’re usually the first to produce flowering coffee plants each year.
4. Nuevo Oriente
In the Nuevo Oriente region, the soil is clay and volcanic, so it’s incredibly rich and fertile for growing the perfect Guatemalan coffee beans. Coffee tends to be grown here at an elevation of between 4,300 – 5,500ft above sea level and the temperatures vary from between 18 – 25 degrees so the air is consistently warm and humid.
The Atitlan growing region surrounds Lake Atitlan and three volcanic mountains. Its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean coupled with its high elevation of between 4,000 – 5900ft above sea level means the area is relatively free from diseases and pests and sees a high humidity level of around 75%. The water from Lake Atitlan is also often used for wet processing the coffee from the area.
6. Fraijanes Plateau
Fraijanes Plateau surrounds Guatemala City and the volcanic soil, high altitudes and high rainfall is ideal for the growth of coffee. Additionally, it’s close to Pacaya, one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala which erupts every so often and provides the soil with a mineral boost.
7. Highland Huehuetenango
Highland Huehuetenango is another one of the regions volcanic areas and the highest and driest coffee producing area. The region sees hot winds that blow from Mexico’s Tehuantepec plain, so the region is protected from frost which allows for Guatemalan coffee beans to be grown at extremely high altitudes of up to 6,500ft.
Guatemalan coffee processing
Wet processing tends to be the normal method in Guatemala which is due to the abundance of water in the country, allowing for mills to be placed virtually anywhere. The high humidity levels of the country also means that the dry process doesn’t tend to be that effective either, so wet process is the safer bet. This processing method is often preferred by many as it highlights the natural acidity and produces a cleaner taste.