Guatemala is known to produce some of the best coffee in the world and we are proud to offer a Guatemalan coffee as our first Single Origin Coffee out of the new Tumut River Roasters down here at Tumut River Brewing! Because of this, we thought you, our loving general public, would want to know more about growing coffee in Guatemala. This article is a little nerdy and if you want to get a map out so that you can really plot these on it we suggest you go full on and do it!
Guatemala was the 11th largest producer of coffee in the world in 2017, producing no less than seven distinct types of Arabica (that’s the name of the bean) coffee. These Guatemalan varieties are held in high esteem worldwide for their unique flavours and distinction from each other. Guatemala offers one of the most climatically diverse coffee growing regions in the world. That’s not bad for a country that would fit inside of New South Wales seven times with space still to spare! The soil, humidity, altitude, rainfall and temperature vary greatly enough across the country to allow for this to happen. Below we’re going to give each of the regions its own little spotlight starting with the Huehuetenango region where our first Single Origin Coffee is coming from.
Huehuetenango - This region in northern Guatemala borders Mexico and has its own unique microclimate. Coffee is planted between 5000ft and 6000ft and the relative humidity of the region 70-80%. Dry and hot winds roll in off the Tehuantepec plain in Mexico and they protect the region from frost at its highest altitudes. The average temperature is 23ºC and the subtropical, humid climate contributes to the bean’s beautiful appearance and uniform maturity. The coffee is usually described as being a winey, high-quality cup.
Antigua - Sitting south of Huehuetenango Antigua is known worldwide for its coffee. The region lies in a valley between three volcanos, and this geography creates the perfect environment for growing coffee. Temperatures range between 19-22ºC and the altitude is perfect for coffee; between 4600ft and 5600ft. Humidity is at a constant 65% and the young soils found in the region add their own unique taste to the coffee. Coffee from Antigua is described as having a full and velvety body, a lively aroma and a fine acidity.
Volcan San Marcos - Grown on the side of a volcano this coffee is cultivated in the warmest and wettest of Guatemala's coffee growing regions. The altitude ranges between 4600ft and 6000ft and the relative humidity is high, between 70-80%. The cups from this region are very aromatic and can be quite floral. it has a delicate body with a pronounced acidity.
Rainforest Cobán - This is the very humid, subtropical zone in the very north of the country which produces a very aromatic, fine bodied and well-balanced coffee, full of fresh fruit flavour.
The rainforest sits between 4300ft and 5000ft and this means that the beans that come out of this region are called hard beans. This region gets a lot of rain (see the name?) distributed throughout the year with no predominant rainy season. It is a very cloudy region with a very high relative humidity, 85%-95% and soil mainly made up of limestone and clay.
Fraijanes Plateau - These soft aroma, full-bodied coffee beans are grown in the mountains surrounding the valley that holds Guatemala City. The volcanic soil is high in potassium and this gives the cup it’s full body. The coffee here is cultivated between 4000-5000ft. The beans from this region are distinctly hard and are similar to the coffee found in Antigua.
Atitlan - Lake Atitlan is located in a massive volcano crater in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala. Coffee is grown all around the lake but flourishes best on the Pacific side between three volcanic mountains which provide the perfect environment for growing coffee. The plants grow between 4000ft and 5900ft and most of the coffee is cultivated by small producers. Coffee from Atitlan is aromatic with a crisp, pronounced acidity and a full body.
New Oriente - This coffee is cultivated on a former volcanic range between 4300ft and 5000ft. The area has a median amount of rainfall for coffee growing regions in Guatemala and produces aromatic coffees with a marked acidity. and a good body. There are also hints of chocolate in the flavour profile of coffee from this region.
Image Credit: Public Domain Images: PIXNIO
Note: This information was adapted from information found online about Guatemalan coffee. It comes from various sources including Anacafe, thirdwavecoffeesource.com and coffeeresearch.org