Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemala has one of the longest and richest coffee producing histories in the world. This is especially so due to the complex flavor profile of Guatemalan coffee that offers consumers a full-bodied taste. Coffees sourced from Guatemala are some of the best in quality and is a perennial favorite with coffee connoisseurs around the world. This is due to the perfect balance it achieves in strength of the brews it offers and the sweetness of the flavors, along with a perfectly balanced degree of acidity.

Top Guatemalan Coffees

Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemala is a South American country regarded as one of the foremost producers of coffee around the world. Coffee has a long association with this country dating back to the mid-1700s when it was first exported to Guatemala as a decorative plant for private gardens. It was not until around a century later in the 1860s that coffee production was pursued by the colonial rulers as a commercial endeavor.

Within decades coffee had replaced dye as the largest export of Guatemala. With further support and encouragement from the government, the coffee plantation industry in the country soon became one of the largest exporters of coffee in the world. Currently, there are more than a hundred thousand coffee producers throughout the country of Guatemala.

Due to the sheer number of coffee producers practicing coffee cultivation at some level or the other in this small country, it is quite difficult for them to unionize. In the 1960s, the Asosiación Nacional del Café or Anacafe was founded by a group of coffee growers. They equipped themselves with the goal of reaching out to and improving the lives of the people involved in even the remotest farms in the country.

Why Guatemalan coffee?

There are many coffee companies around the world that operate as big chain stores serving people around the world or as smaller coffee makers catering to a particular region. Irrespective of the size of the coffee brand, they are all likely to have coffee sourced from Guatemala in their menu. It is due to the quality of Guatemalan coffee that it is a perennial favorite with coffee lovers across the board.

There are many factors that contribute to the popularity of Guatemalan coffee. These range from the completeness of the flavor profile to the fact that this coffee is perfectly balanced even without any blending carried out on them. Let us take a closer look at the many unique features that accord Guatemalan brews its special appeal.

The suitable climate and altitude

Most of the coffee grown in Guatemala is cultivated in farms located at altitudes that vary in range from 1600 to 16,400 feet above sea level. The best Guatemalan climates suited to coffee cultivation require temperatures ranging between 60F and 90F. Due to the abundance of such highlands throughout this small nation, coffee plantations are a common sight around many regions in Guatemala.

The farms located at the lower altitudes ranging between 1600 and 2300 feet, the coffee plants are provided shade from the direct glare of the sun by growing them alongside bigger trees. On the other hand, at higher altitudes than average around 5000 feet, the coffee plants need protection from the cold winds blowing in from the north.

The coffee growing regions

Guatemalan coffee is usually sourced from the seven major coffee growing regions in the country. These include Antigua, Huehuetenango, Atitlan, Fraijanes Plateau, Rainforest Cobán, Volcan San Marcos, and Oriente. Each of these different regions necessitates the application of different farming techniques to better make use of the natural resources available around them.

For example, the coffee grown on Antigua makes use of the volcanic slope, abundant sunlight, and low rainfall with the harvest season falling between November and April. The Huehuetenango grown coffees on the other hand, enjoy the highest altitudes and produce fruity flavors that are complex.

The flavor profile

Guatemalan coffee is famed for its full-bodied flavor profile. It achieves the perfect balance between the natural acidity of the coffee beans complemented by a toffee like sweetness that is inherent to this type of coffee. This coffee contains underlying notes of sweet milk chocolate and bittersweet cocoa that complement the inherent taste of coffee. These notes are often accompanied by the taste of nuts and toffee, all of which come together to lend each mouthful a unique and rich range.

The various Guatemalan coffee types

Guatemala mostly produces arabica coffee of the typical and bourbon varieties which accounts for the full-bodied taste of this coffee. Each of the coffee growing regions has predesignated flavor profiles. Every batch of coffee produced in these regions is subjected to rigorous tasting to ascertain whether they match these profiles. If found wanting by the coffee association of Guatemala, Anacafe, the beans are sold as Strictly Hard Bean and deprived of a regional designation.

Processing

Due to the humid climate that persists throughout Guatemala, irrespective of deviations in height, dry processing is rendered futile. This type of processing requires direct sunlight through prolonged exposure to sunlight in dry weather which is scarcely available in rainy Guatemala. Consequently, Guatemalan coffee is wet processed which comprises of washing the fruits of the dusty particles accumulated on its surface. This method contributes to a brighter taste and accentuates the natural acidity of the coffee beans.

Types of coffee farms

Apart from the seven biggest coffee growing estates already discussed earlier, most of the coffee produced in Guatemala comes from small holder farms and cooperatives. These are predominantly situated in the Huehuetenango and Coban regions. Here, the lack of transportation facilities and bad weather often interfere to make delivering the highest quality beans quite difficult for the smaller farms.

These farms often organize together to form cooperatives with their own mills that oversee the processing of high-quality coffee. One such cooperative is situated in the lakeside town of San Juan La Laguna, where coffee is grown organically through traditional farming practices. These techniques make the best use of the shade provided by the canopy of big trees grown alongside coffee plants which also double down as shelters for migratory and local birds.

Many coffee aficionados swear by single source coffees due to the preservation of the essence of the beans that these brews manage to produce. Guatemalan coffee is one such single source that, irrespective of the region that produced the coffee, manages to retain a unique identity through its complex flavor profile and consistently high quality. So, try them out from a good coffee brand and enjoy the joys of this particular coffee source.

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