Food - Drink
Why Guatemala's Coffee Is So Special
By WENDY LEIGH
With its volcanoes, rainforests, and a rich history of Mayan culture, there are many things that stand out about Guatemala, including the country's coffee beans. With more diverse microclimates across its land than nearly any other country, it’s no surprise that Guatemalan coffee farms produce beans like no others.
To borrow a word from wine culture, “terroir” is a French term referring to a region's soil, climate, elevation, and terrain, all of which influence wine from that region. Guatemalan coffee farmers say the country's soil provides a “sense of place”, similar to a terrier, proving the country's dedication and diversity when it comes to coffee.
Most Guatemalan coffee-growing regions benefit from high altitudes, rugged terrain, and rich volcanic soil composed of clay, metamorphic rock, and minerals from volcanoes and lakes. These elements produce what are known as Strictly Hard Beans (SHB), high-altitude coffee beans with deep, complex flavors of chocolate or spice.
From the sunny slopes of Antigua to the dense shade of the Acatenango Valley, all eight coffee-producing regions in Guatemala contribute to the total amount of SHB, but regional nuances produce distinct flavor and body. Also, 96.8% of Guatemalan beans come from small farmers, making this coffee even more extraordinary.