Region Profile: Guatemala
Jul 08, 2019
Guatemala is a land with unlimited potential and a hardy population. Sugar cane, rubber trees, plantains, and coffee all grace the fertile soil and highlands in this Central American country. The coffee here is prized as some of the most flavorful in the world. Guatemala Antigua, the hills around Semuc Champey, and many other regions grow prized beans that find their way into mugs around the world.
Guatemala has been growing coffee for over 200 years and what started as a small and centralized growing region has sprouted and spread across the entire country. Though there are nearly 10 regions where coffee is grown, three are widely recognized by coffee drinkers.
Antigua is the focal point of most tourism in Guatemala. It was once the colonial capital, but after being destroyed by an earthquake in the 18th Century, it was moved to the equally earthquake prone Guatemala City. Guatemala City is simply too dangerous and too empty of interesting points for most people to seriously consider visiting, and Antigua offers stunning views, dining, and numerous day trips to volcanoes, hikes, and villages.
Surrounding the colonial town are dozens of coffee growing estates. These large coffee operations are home to landowners of Spanish descent that were either handed down generation after generation, or seized from German growers at the request of the US government after the outbreak of hostilities with Germany in 1941. The coffee grown in the highlands surrounding the city is rich from rains and volcanic soil and, when brewed, maintains a fine balance of body and acidity.
Huehuetenango (whey-whey-te-nango) is situated high in the mountains of Guatemala's northwestern border with Mexico. The region is devoid of the volcanic activity that is active and afflicts the rest of the nation's coffee growing regions. This area is notoriously difficult to travel to due to poor infrastructure and no shortage of bumpy, one-lane dirt roads. The roughly 130 mile journey may take upwards of eight hours from the capital Guatemala City. Being an agricultural hub where coffee is the cash crop, the region is reliant on a robust harvest and the high prices coffee buyers will pay for good, exceptional coffee. These coffees tend to be more citric with flavors of bright orange and chocolate.
Named for the volcano that looms over the valley, the region's sordid history of coffee smuggling and counterfeit branding has halted. As specialty coffee buyers have traveled here, they discovered the conditions ripe for producing stunning coffees. Sweet and complex, the coffees from Acatenango are now rarely blended but stand on their own.
Guatemala’s fertile soil and tropic climate continue to reward growers with high-quality coffee that we bring to you. With increases in quality, and in the price buyers pay for it, the well-being of all peoples working within the coffee industry here will improve. We are happy to contribute. So grab a mug, brew your coffee, and join us in a salute to this incredible country.
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