Here at Sagebrush, we always offer a variety of Latin American coffees, but the country that continually produces our best sellers is Guatemala (gwaa•tuh•maa•luh). Guatemala is one of the world's largest high-quality coffee producers. Their coffee is the perfect balance of bold and sweet, with a pleasant acidity and their versatile flavor notes allow the beans to appeal to a wide range of people.
Guatemalan Coffee History & Geography
Although there are tales of coffee being grown in the region as early as 1747, many people believe the Jesuits were the first to introduce coffee to Guatemala in 1750. Either way, coffee did not become an important crop until the early 1860s. In order to diversify their crops (indigo was the main cash crop prior), the Guatemalan government established the Commission for Coffee Cultivation and Promotion. This delegation was responsible for producing educational materials for coffee farmers along with improved business practices focusing on bean price and quality. To further progress the coffee industry, the Guatemalan government distributed around one million coffee seeds across the country. There are now over 125,000 coffee producers and 277,000 hectares of land planted with coffee. By 1880, 90% of country's exports consisted of coffee.
Although the coffee industry flourished and became the backbone of the economy, it was not always butterflies and rainbows. In order to expand their coffee plantations, many indigenous people were deprived of their land. Following the global depression that occurred in 1930, the price of coffee was lowered to stimulate exports. In an effort to improve infrastructure, Guatemalan power was taken over by the United Fruit Company, which was not received positively by the community. By 1960, a civil war took place between the government and UFC/coffee plantation owners due to land reform, poverty, hunger, and racism toward indigenous people. This war technically lasted until 1996, but Guatemala continues to face these same issues today.
Guatemala has ideal coffee growing conditions and the diverse microclimates are the reason such versatile coffees are produced. Due to the abundance of rain, wet-processed coffees are the norm. High levels of humidity often disrupt natural or dry-processed beans. The wet-process is usually preferred by the farmers because it is consistent and highlights the natural acidity of the bean.
Guatemalan Tasting Profile
Because Guatemala has many extremely diverse microclimate regions, the beans harvested have many varying tasting notes. From a full-bodied but sweet taste, to complex and acidic, Guatemalan coffee can suit any drinker on the spectrum. Sitting as the highest farm in Guatemala, Huehuetenango provides beans with complex vanilla and caramel-like flavors.