General Cup Profile
Guatemalan coffee traditionally exhibits high malic acidity, caramel, and clean cups with a ton of sweetness. We see distinctly different cups in each region of Guatemala. Huehuetenangos are typically known for their fruit forward profile that is borderline "naturally" pulpy, and a result of how large volumes of coffee are stacked on the patios.
Here coffee is grown under dense shade at altitudes reaching 2000 masl, some of the highest in the country. The constant eruptions from the Fuego (Fire) Volcano keep the coarse, sandy soils full of minerals.
Rich volcanic soil, low humidity, lots of sun, and cool nights are the main characteristics of Antigua Region. Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes; Agua (Water), Fuego (Fire) and Acatenango. Every once in a while, Fire Volcano adds dusting of mineral –rich ash to Antigua’s soil. Volcanic pumice in the soil retains moisture, which helps offsets Antigua’s low rainfall. The altitude here ranges from 1300-1600m, and we see excellent full containers of coffee from this region that are well suited as components of blends.
Atitlan’s soil is the richest in organic matter. Volcanoes surround Lake Atitlan and the 90% of the coffee is cultivated along the slopes of them. Daily winds that stir the cold lake waters are an influence for the microclimates in the region. The resulting wet climate is ideal for coffee. We source excellent full containers and microlots from this region, and the fact that it is one of the most beautiful locations in the world around the historic lake doesn't hurt.
(1400 – 1800 MASL) Volcanic soil, high altitudes, plenty or rain, variable humidity and an active volcano characterize Fraijanes Region. Pacaya Volcano, the most active in Guatemala, supplies ash giving the soil an important mineral boost. The dry season offers a good amount of sun, allowing efficient sun drying of the coffee.
(1500 – 2000 MASL) Pronounced (way-way-ten-an-go), this region is known by its exceptional production of quality coffee. Huehuetenango is a region protected against frost, due to the dry and hot winds that comes from Mexico’s mountains. Huehuetenangos typically exhibit a fruitier profile than other regions in Guatemala. This may be due to the common practice of stacking coffee higher on the patios than normal. Even if this may not be the most ideal in terms of efficient drying, the resulting cup is distinctly "Huehue"
(1300 - 1700 MASL) Its soil is made of metamorphic rock, which is a balance between minerals and different soils, allowing the good development of the coffee tress and cherries.
(1300 – 1500 MASL) Coban is known for its gorgeous rainforest cover. The region is traditionally cloudy, rainy and cool all year long. The resulting coffee is one that has undergone slower maturation with deep, syrupy profiles.
(1300 – 1800 MASL) The rainy season comes early compared to the other regions, and the flowering comes first. Due to amount of rain, most of the producers pre-dry their coffee under the sun and the process is finished in a Guardiola (mechanical) dryer.
Fully Washed and traditionally dried on patios.
Micromills have become more popular in Guatemala. The old mill companies are buying new technology to be able to produce micro lots and guarantee the traceability of the coffee.
The relationship among the producers and buyers has being changing lately; as in most of the world, the producers want to have a deeper connection to the buyers and know were their coffee is sold. In the past, the producers sold their coffee to an exporter and the involvement ended at that moment. Now the producers increasingly more often know where their coffee goes, who buys it, and where is sold. This relationship has contributed to increase the production of specialty coffee and increases the trust the producers have in committing to coffee production instead of planting other crops.
In the middle of the 1700's, the Jesuits brought the first coffee trees to Guatemala, as ornamental plants. At this period, Guatemala was not producing coffee, but they were very familiar with farming other agricultural products. By 1835, the government wanted to encourage the production of coffee, and to do so, they offered economic awards to those farmers who cultivated 20,000 pounds of coffee. In 1859 the first exportation of coffee was made, and it consisted in 383 60 kg bags shipped to Europe.
After 1859 the coffee production and exportation started to increase due to the high interest of the producers to be involved in this new product. In 1888 Guatemalan coffee was awarded for being an excellent product in the World Fest held in Paris. In 1940 the coffee exportations were suspended because of the World War II. By 1960 the “Producers Union” was created, which later became the National Coffee Organization “Asosiacion Nacional del Café” (ANACAFE). By 2005 the market of specialty coffee became more attractive for the Guatemalan Coffee and the producers have increasingly focused on the production of specialty coffee.
Today Guatemala has a very strong in-country support system for coffee producers. They also have a strong marketing presence to promote Guatemalan coffee globally. Guatemala accounts for 2.5 of the world's total coffee production. One of our green buyers, Luis (Lucho) Arocha, is from Guatemala and brings an intimate knowledge of the country to our buying team. Guatemalan coffee has been a staple of Cafe Imports' offerings since our humble beginnings, and seeing the increase in quality has been heartwarming. We can't think of many other countries where excellent coffee is in such high abundance. Marathon cuppings in Guatemala are invigorating and exciting; quite literally there is an incredible amount of low hanging fruit in Guatemala. We have many exciting projects here ranging from high-end microlots to impressive full containers.