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Depending on your entry point into the world of coffee, your knowledge of Guatemalan coffee could be widely varied. For myriad reasons, coffee production in Guatemala all but ceased for several decades. Before then, it was known as one of the best coffee regions in the world. That’s still true, though as it sits now, Guatemala is the world’s 10th largest producer of coffee and the second-largest producer of specialty coffee.
Most of Guatemala’s coffee is roasted around or above 5,000 feet, which gives it a sparkling acidity and makes it ripe for specialty coffee aficionados.
With the world of coffee being so huge, we would like to be your guide through the hills of Guatemala.
|Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry|
|Java Planet Guatemalan USDA Organic||Medium||4.7/5|
|Two Volcanoes Ground Guatemala |
(Best Pre-ground Coffee Pick)
|Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Decaffeinated|
(Best Decaf Pick)
|Pablo’s Pride Guatemala ||Dark||4.3/5|
Volcanica’s Peaberry from Guatemala is a wildly popular bean and for good reason. It is a rich and complex experience. At its best, Volcanica’s Guatemala Peaberry is a shining example of what Guatemalan coffee is supposed to be: a bit spicy with dazzling acidity and chocolate tones. The price tag isn’t prohibitive. In fact, in the world of specialty coffee, we’d say it hovers around average.
It’s a versatile bean as well. The best method for brewing this bean is a cold brew, which really lets the acidity be the star of the show. This is a coffee with great body, roasted at a medium level.
There have been a few complaints that this coffee can arrive stale when delivered.
Grown organically, Java Planet’s Guatemalan effort boasts the use of no GMOs. While they are a mindful steward of the land, they are a mindful steward of taste buds as well. This is a wonderfully clear coffee with notes of dark fruits, caramel, and chocolate. This coffee has a creamy intuitiveness and is a real stickler for lingering.
Like most Guatemalan coffees, this one is grown past 5,000 feet, giving it a nuanced flavor and dazzling acidity.
There have been reports of this coffee being delivered stale. The customer service of this roaster has a wonderful reputation, though, and is known to give full refunds.
As far as pre-ground coffee goes, this blend by Two Volcanoes is ideal. It’s a blended dark roast, which gives this coffee the best chance to be at its most flavorful. When a roaster is doing a blend, especially in bulk, it is so easy to get the ratios of coffee wrong, to have a defect, etc. That is typically why roasters roast coffees like this so dark, especially if it is going to be sold pre-ground.
While this is a blend, it still has the notes you would expect from a Guatemalan coffee, most noticeably of chocolate and caramel. You just won’t find them as pronounced.
It does need to be pointed out that with pre-ground coffee, you have a higher percentage of getting a bad batch or it going stale soon after you get it because coffee’s shelf life dramatically decreases after it has been ground.
As a medium roast, Volcanica’s Guatemala offering is a delightful cup. The notes of chocolate and nuts come through in a creamy, full bodied experience. It is similar to our top pick, though it being decaf caused it to slip down the list.
This coffee was grown in volcanic ash, which is where we find so much of the brightness in the acidity. Remember, these are the same beans as the caffeinated ones, and the only difference is that these have gone through a process to rid them of their caffeine.
For being the last coffee on our list, this one is pretty good. It doesn’t have the complexity that many Guatemalan coffees have, but it does carry notes of chocolate and caramel and is full bodied.
It may be best to mess around with your brew method with this coffee. People have all sorts of different experiences with Pablo’s. Some swear by percolators, other by cold brew, but all agree that this coffee is good. One gripe is that it is really low in acidity, which is what generally carries a drink.
There are so many things to think about when considering what kind of coffee to buy, even once you decide that you’re going to buy Guatemalan. The roast, the area it was grown, the brewing method you have at home — these all matter. So how do you find out what is right for you when it comes to Guatemalan coffee? Let’s start with roasts …
The lighter a Guatemalan coffee is, the more robust it will be. Here, you will find notes of spices and fruits, along with nutty chocolate and caramel. Single origin will be the most robust, while blends can still bring out the best. Blends may also be best for espresso, while a single origin would be better suited for a Chemex or a pour-over of that type.
There are so many options for chocolate lovers. Even with a really dark roast, the notes of chocolate generally shine through in a Guatemalan coffee. You’ll find other complementary flavors — fruits, spices, and caramel — but mostly, you’ll be sipping on a creamy cup of coco (don’t get that confused with hot cocoa.)
Because of the boom of exports coming from Guatemala, now might actually be a difficult time to shop for Guatemalan coffee, especially if you are the indecisive type. At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to the type of coffee you prefer and what you are willing to experiment with. Every region has a coffee akin to the tin cup style we have here, such as Folgers or Maxwell House. These might be pretty good introductions to Guatemalan coffee, but we recommend branching out. There is so much that this region has to offer.
If you are the more adventurous type, we recommend trying different roast levels, brew methods, and processes. The world of coffee is wonderfully huge — we suggest exploring it. The first step can sometimes be the hardest, and we hope that these reviews have helped you on your journey for the perfect bean.
Featured image credit: Pexels
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