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Guide to Guatemalan Coffee

Maryna Gray Maryna Gray • March 25, 2021

Located east of Mexico and west of Honduras, Guatemala is a major coffee producing region. In fact, it's the second-largest coffee producer in Latin America and one of the largest coffee suppliers in the world. More than half of Guatemala’s coffee is exported to the U.S. and represents around 15 percent of its Gross National Product.


History of Guatemalan Coffee 

During the 1800s in Europe, the invention of chemical dyes led to a collapse in the export market for Guatemala’s indigo and cochinel. Coffee was then developed as an export crop to take their place, and was supported by the government through preferential tax and trade treatment. By 1859, over half a million coffee trees were planted around Coban, San Marcos, Antigua and Conan, and about 100-pound bags were exported to Europe.

Guatemalan Coffee Growing Regions 

Guatemala’s growing regions include:
  • Antigua
  • Atitlan
  • Fraijanes Plateau
  • Highland Huehuetenango
  • Nuevo Oriente
  • Rainforest Coban
  • Volcan San Marcos
The mild subtropical climate in Guatemala, combined with well-drained volcanic soils, produces a mild coffee with distinctive characteristics of flavor and aroma.

Guatemalan Coffee Growing Processes 

Coffee grown in Guatemala is typically washed (also known as wet-processed). Wet-processed coffee means the fruit covering the beans has been removed before the beans go through the drying process, using a method that requires large quantities of water.

Guatemalan Coffee Taste

Guatemalan coffees tend to have a full or medium body with rich flavor, but the coffee has different qualities depending on the region. Coffees grown in the Antigua or Atitlan regionslocated in the country's Central Highlandshave a floral acidity, which is often spicy or chocolaty in taste.

Coffees grown in mountain areas exposed to the Caribbean or Pacific Ocean are likely to be less acidic. These coffees will tend to have more of a fruity flavor.

Best Guatemalan Coffee and Coffee Brands 

With most of Guatemala’s coffee exported to the U.S., there are many places to taste and purchase it. You can find Guatemalan coffee, along with other coffees from around the world, in our Coffees of the World Sampler. You can also find full bags of Guatemalan coffee here. Or, try our Smooth & Bright Cold Brew, made with Guatemalan beans.

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