Coffee was brought to Guatemala in the mid-1700s as ornamental plants. However, coffee production didn’t really take off until the 1860s when the country’s natural dye industry was overtaken by synthetic products, and a new industry was needed to save the economy.
The government encouraged the growth of coffee plantations, and coffee quickly became the country’s largest export. In fact, up until 2011, Guatemala was one of the top 5 largest coffee-producing countries when Honduras finally surpassed it.
Similar to other Central American origins, Guatemalan coffee is largely characterised by its rich diversity and optimal growing conditions, including consistent rainfall and mineral-rich soil.
More than 225,000 hectares of land are dedicated to the growing of coffee, with production spread across eight distinct regions: Antigua, Acatenango Valley, Atitlan, Cobán, Fraijanes Plateau, Huehuetenango, Nueva Oriente, and San Marcos.
Although large-scale farmers account for around 45% of the country’s total coffee output, there are approximately 40,000 smallholder family-run farms that produce a range of varieties, including caturra, bourbon, catuai, and pacamara.
- Harvest: November - April