By M.J. Blanchet
Let’s talk about one of my favorite coffees: Guatemalan. Before we dive into why I like it so much; it's time for a little history lesson.
So pour yourself a tasty brew and let’s start trekking across Central America!
Coffee wasn’t actually imported into Guatemala until the 1750’s and even then it wasn’t cultivated until the 1800’s with it finally being exported into Europe in 1868 which is fairly recent.
However, here's a not-so-fun history fact, and it’s also directly related to the continued impoverishment of the Mayan people. Over the following century, due to slave labor, government regulations, and the indigenous people being forced to work on coffee plantations known as ‘fincas’, the remnants and descendants of the once mighty Mayan nation were further oppressed. Which is a shame, and totally not why I like Guatemalan coffee.
On a much tastier note - There are multiple varieties of coffee grown in Guatemala -
Antigua: which are full bodied coffees that carry their tastes well into the roasting process to produce great tasting dark roasts. They have complex flavors, often tinted with cocoa and spicier flavor notes.
Coban: It too has the preferred Guatemalan coffee qualities which include an excellent full or medium body, with a rich and spicy flavor. Often with light fruity acidity, most commonly floral, and a lively aroma with light winey notes.
Huehuetenango: This variety has two distinct roast profiles, with its delicate fruity qualities are enhanced by a light roast, while a dark brings out flavors of cocoa and bittersweet chocolate. Delivering a taste that is subtle and mild, yet still complex and interesting depending on the roast.
Guatemala is host to multiple regions that are very well suited for growing coffee, the Fraijanes Plateau, Antigua, Highland Huehuetenango, Rainforest Coban, Volcan San Marcos, Nuevo Oriente, and Atitlan.
Some facts about each:
The Nuevo Oriente coffee growing region is located in eastern Guatemala along the border with Honduras. It boasts an ideal climate with rich volcanic soils that result in high quality coffee with a distinct acidity and good body. The Atitlan coffee growing region surrounds Lake Atitlan in Guatemala near three volcanic mountains and near the Pacific Ocean.
Most notably for the discerning coffee enthusiasts, the coffee plants of the Atitlan region are typically fertilized with organic matter instead of chemical fertilizers.
Fraijanes Plateau is a coffee growing region in Guatemala in the mountainous region north of Lake Amatitlan. These mountains surround the Valley of Ermita, the location of Guatemala City.
Antigua is a coffee growing region in Guatemala and is also used as a market name. Surrounded by three volcanoes, the valley that surrounds the old capital of Guatemala Antigua has a ideal soil and an ideal coffee growing climate which produces these distinguished coffees.
The Highland Huehuetenango coffee growing region is located near Mexico’s border and the coffee is grown at elevations between 5,000 feet and 6,000 feet above sea level. The Highland Huehuetenango coffee plants are protected from frost by the hot and dry winds of Mexico’s Tehuantepec plain.
The Rainforest Coban coffee growing region is in the northern part of Guatemala and is predominantly characterized by humid, subtropical forests.The soil of this region is mostly clay and limestone, and the climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and is often cloudy with a typical day perhaps only receiving a few hours of direct sunlight.
Volcan San Marcos is the wettest and warmest coffee growing region in Guatemala, and also the first region to produce flowering coffee plants each year.
So in conclusion, Guatemala offers a variety of high quality coffee beans for any and all coffee needs, so much so, that it is one of the nation's largest export!
We currently have sourced a decaf Guatemala from Onyx Green Coffee Importers. The El Tambor is from the Fraijanes Plateau. The region of Fraijanes is located north of Lake Amatitlan in the mountains surrounding the Valley of Ermita where Guatemala City is located. This one is new to our inventory and we are really stoked about it!
We also have a regular Guatemala (Candalaria) sourced from the growing region of Alotenango and produced by the Zalaya Family on their farm Finca Candelaria.
Here's to a beautiful cup of coffee!