A Coffee Blog

Coffee from Guatemala | The complete guide

Guatemala is a country that has had to go through some hardships.

It has also left its mark on coffee production, but Guatemala is today a country with a world-famous coffee production when it comes to speciality coffee.

We provide a review of the country’s coffee history and a guide to coffee from Guatemala.

Civil war leaves deep traces

Coffee began to be grown in Guatemala in the mid-19th century, as in several of the other Central American countries. The government of Guatemala focused heavily on getting coffee production going around this time, and it must be said to succeed. In 1880, coffee accounted for 90% of Central American exports. 

Coffee remains an important part of Guatemala’s economy in the 20th century, but the country is hit hard by political instability and ultimately mid-century civil war. From 1960-96, the country is hit by a civil war that alternately puts the economy in free fall or flying in the air. Coffee farmers have to leave their coffee farms and the industry is hit hard.

Today, fortunately, things are looking brighter. Guatemala has become known for its speciality coffee and has gotten off to a good start in its coffee production after many years of civil war. 

One of the reasons for the success of speciality coffee in Guatemala is the organization Anacafé (Asociación Nacional del Café). They were founded in 1960 and have helped to define the eight different coffee regions in the country. At the same time, Anacafé has set up a lot of coffee laboratories around the country, where farmers can have their coffee quality tested. 

When buying coffee from Guatemala, one can also expect high traceability. It is usually relatively easy to trace the coffee back to the place where it was grown. 

Coffee that rises well in the heights

Coffee from Guatemala can taste quite different. The country has a lot of different climates that allow the coffee to taste very different depending on the region. The most widely grown varieties of Arabica coffee in Guatemala are Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai. Typica is also a frequently cultivated variety, but the first three are also those found in the three regions that this article zooms into. 

Much of the coffee in Guatemala is grown in volcanic soils and at great heights. The country has a special grading system that divides the coffee according to the height at which it is grown.

The two most important are HB and SHB, which stand for Hard Bean and Strictly Hard Bean, respectively. HB is coffee grown between 1220-1300 meters altitude, and SHB is coffee grown at over 1300 meters altitude. 

At the same time, coffee beans from Guatemala are also classified by the region in a slightly special way. It is not enough that the coffee is just grown in the region in question, but the coffee should also have the taste notes that normally characterize the region.


This region is quite well known. I often think I see it in different micro-roasters, but maybe it’s also just because the name is pretty memorable. It is special to Huehuetenango that the region has no volcanoes.

You will therefore not find the same lush soil here as in other regions, but in return, the coffee grows at dizzying heights: between 1500-2000 meters. One can also find dizzyingly good coffee in the region. Complex coffee with lots of sweetness that is balanced by good acidity.

San Marcos

This is both the hottest and the wettest region in Guatemala. You will also find exciting coffee here, which is grown between 1300-1800 meters altitude. The coffee here is typically floral and very sour in taste.


This is the most famous region in Guatemala. Both because the coffee is grown here, and also because the city of Antigua is known for its distinctive architecture.

The coffee berries are grown here in lush volcanic soil and at an altitude of 1500-1700 meters. You will find delicious coffee that can be both sour and floral but also with deep notes of chocolate.

A coffee country in growth and prosperity

Guatemala is a really exciting country when it comes to speciality coffee. Regions are all very distinctive, and coffee beans from the country are frequent guests at the micro-roasters.

Despite problems with political instability and civil war, the country’s coffee production is growing today.

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