South America is known for possessing some of the richest, most delicious coffee grown anywhere in the world. But even in this vast panorama of high-quality coffee, Guatemalan beans stand out for their deeply complex taste, a full to medium-bodied texture, and tantalizing aromas. Guatemala is blessed with the perfect weather conditions needed to produce the best coffee, and it has eight specific regions that grow the highest grade coffee beans available from this part of the world.
There is great variation within these eight beans, and they represent the diversity and versatility of coffee that is available in Guatemala. This article will cover what makes coffee from this South American nation so irresistibly good, and the best coffees you can buy that were grown here. There’s something for everybody in Guatemala, and after this article, you’ll know exactly what you need.
Take a look at “Where Does Coffee Come From?” for more info on places around the world that produce coffee.
What Makes Coffee from Guatemala So Special?
The truly amazing thing about the variance in Guatemalan coffee is that the country is actually really small, and is only roughly the size of the state of Tennessee. Like many countries that produce high-quality coffee, for example, Colombia, the majority of coffees grown in this tiny nation are of the arabica plant. The country has an abundance of volcanic soil and high altitudes that assist coffee growth. Check out “Coffee Insight: Arabica vs Colombian Coffee” for the differences between these two beans.
Guatemala also has sugarcane as another of its cheap agricultural exports, and farmers often grow the two crops together. This leads to the sweetness of the sugarcane rubbing off on the coffee. Another way in which Guatemalan coffee is often sweet is through its common chocolatey notes. On top of this, its tropical climate makes it a much better place to grow coffee than many neighboring countries.
Best Guatemalan Coffee Brands
All the best Guatemalan coffees are hard beans. This means that the density of sugars and taste in these beans is higher than in soft beans, and is a major reason behind their popularity. The highest coffee grade in Guatemala reflects this in its name, ‘Strictly Hard Bean’ (SHB). With that said, here are the best Guatemalan coffees than you can get your hands on:
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Antiguan coffee is indigenous to the capital of this nation, Antiguan coffee is perhaps the most diverse of the lot. The area is surrounded by three major volcanoes, and the altitude is just high enough for it to qualify as hard bean coffee. Coffee estates in Antigua generally possess a rich sense of tradition due to them being passed down from generation to generation. These coffees have a velvety texture, along with strong notes of chocolates, nuts, and low acidity. In recent years, the Antiguan Growers Association are facing increasing problems protecting the sanctity of their product due to the spread of counterfeits. Today, every batch of genuine Antiguan coffee can be traced for full assurance of its superior quality.
Out of the eight provinces producing SHB coffee, Huehuetenango coffee is one of three that does not possess volcanic soil. However, its climate is among the driest and the altitude reaches up to 2000 meters. Coffee from this region is much more fruity as compared to Antiguan coffee. It is also more acidic and has a sweet aroma. Due to the remoteness of its location, producers generally process their own coffee. The abundance of rivers makes this easier since most Guatemalan coffee is processed by washing instead of drying.
San Marcos coffee is the oldest coffee-growing region in the country, and it is also its wettest. The high rainfall experienced by this region is a blessing in disguise, giving it’s coffee a uniquely acidic taste, combined with an appropriately bodied texture. Like Huehuetenango, it is rich in floral notes due to the abundance of microclimates in this province. Coffee beans here mature faster than other regions of the country due to the heavy rainfall that occurs earlier than neighboring regions.
Check out this piece on “5 Coffee Myths Debunked” to see if anything you believed before about coffee gets debunked.
In some ways, the Atitlan is similar to the beans from San Marcos. They are both high in acidity as a result of the heavy rain in these areas. Their textures are similar, although Atitlan coffee is fuller-bodied. But the main difference is that while San Marcos has stronger floral notes, these types of beans have more pronounced chocolatey taste. Grown in an area that encircles a lake of the same name, Atitlan coffee is known for substituting chemical fertilizers with organic matter. This coffee is also processed by drying instead of washing, enhancing the strength of its various flavors.
Interested in more coffee brands you’ve never heard of before for you to try? Check out “Top 4 Most Expensive Coffees in the World” for more.
Thank you for reading with us today! Did this piece on Guatemalan coffee interest you? Be sure to check out other topics from around the globe like “Interesting Facts About Coffee in Cultures Around the World” or “Top 5 Best Coffee in the World“.
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