After exploring those countries with a gift for farming the best coffee in the world, we finally arrived in Guatemala, located in a volcanic region of Central America.
As is the case for many colonised countries, where coffee farming was forcefully introduced, in Guatemala too it was begun by colonisers, and more precisely by the Jesuits around 1950. It is thanks to this long history that today the nation exports almost 4 million bags of the highest quality coffee per year.
But what is it that makes this country so suitable to this type of farming? The answer is: its volcanic nature. This provides continuous nourishment to the soil and to the varying hot and cold winds that pass through, making it possible to farm coffee at up to 1900 meters above sea level. In fact, in Guatemala as well, one of the parameters for identifying a quality coffee is the altitude at which it was grown.
The climate also plays a fundamental role. Here coffee is harvested from September to October, with a production that is almost entirely Arabica, processed according to the wet method.
And let’s not forget that, in addition to the altitude, one of the parameters for qualifying and classifying Guatemalan coffee is the area in which it was farmed. Let’s learn about them!
Coffee plantations in Guatemala: the best areas
Let’s begin with an area in which farming is relatively recent. Here coffee is farmed from 1800 to 2000 meters above sea level. This is possible thanks to an artificial forest that protects and reinforces the plants. The nearby Volcán de Fuego, the wind, and the climate also play an important role, all factors that make it possible for the farmers to sun-dry the coffee. In terms of aroma and flavour, the coffee produced in this region is particularly acidic with a persistent aftertaste.
Of all of the volcanic regions in the country, the soil here is richest in nutrients. That’s why the plantations are all found on the slopes of the volcano, near a lake. The wind that ripples across the water creates a unique micro-climate which gives the coffee fabulous aromatic notes and strong body.
Here the climate can vary from one day to the next, even from one hour to the next. The constant rain and subsequent evaporation gives life to a coffee with pronounced acidity and well-structured body.
Here the volcanic soil plays a truly fundamental role. Being that it’s rich in mineral nutrients and often covered in volcanic ash, it provides considerable nourishment to the plants. There’s one problem however: sometimes the area experiences brief frosts. To deal with this, a natural shading is created which protects the plants from the cold. The Guatemalan coffee farmed here is sweet and balanced.
The warm winds that breeze through the area make it possible to farm coffee at up to 2000 meters above sea level. The most commonly used processing method is the wet process, thanks to the abundance of water. All of this creates a coffee with intense acidity accompanied by a subtle hint of wine.
As the name suggests, this area is particularly cloudy and rainy. The constant rain and fog give the coffee a unique fruity flavour and a pleasant lightness.
SAN MARCOS VOLCANOS
This is the warmest and also the rainiest area in Guatemala. These characteristics guarantee that the plants bloom early and that there is an abundance of water, useful for the wet process. The coffee produced here is delicate, with floral notes and a strong acidity.
This area is characterised by small plots of land farmed by small producers. The volcanic area, the frequent precipitation, and the humidity create a very balanced coffee.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Guatemalan coffee, all that’s left is to try it.