Guatemalan Antigua coffee has a worldwide reputation for unforgettable taste and aroma. Why is this so? The answer lies in Guatemala’s landscape, climate, and people.
Guatemala is an interesting country with a rich culture of Mayan ancestry, traditions and historical sights to please anyone. Guatemala is located in Central America. It is a small country about the size of the state of Tennessee. The capital city is Guatemala City with a population of about 2.5 million people. Guatemala has other main cities with challenging phonetic Mayan names such as Quetzaltenango and Escuintia to name just two. It is amazing to learn that there are more than 25 languages spoken in this small country. Spanish is the official language, the rest are living and active Indigenous languages such as Kiche, Kaqhikel, Q’eqchi, and Mam. The country enjoys temperate climate in the highlands and tropical on the coastlines. Coffee is one of Guatemala’s main crops.
Why is Guatemalan Antigua coffee so good? Antigua is located strategically between three main volcanoes. The result is rich and perfect coffee growing conditions. The volcanoes are Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Fuego is an active volcano that is always smoking and erupts with some frequency. Local residents are accustomed to the eruptions that take place just as Californians accept daily tremors as a matter of fact. The area around Antigua has varied and abundant natural fauna and flora. There are colorful sprays of bougainvillea everywhere: in ruins from the Mayan past, on roofs of residences, in parks and growing on residential walls. The city of Antigua Guatemala is one of the best preserved historic cities in Spanish America. The city benefits from a growing and steady flow of international tourists as well as many language students who attend the internationally renowned language schools located there. Coffee is served with just about every meal, providing plenty of tasting opportunities to new and experienced coffee lovers who help promote it in their countries of origin.
What is so unique about Guatemalan Antigua coffee? You really have to drink it yourself to experience it! The complex nuances of the coffee are very special to the tongue: smoke, spice, flowers and traces of chocolate with a level of acidity that ranges from gently bright to powerful but not overstated. Coffee acidity can be defined as the dry and bright taste that makes coffee a very special beverage to enjoy. One way to “visualize” coffee acidity is to remember the dry but bright “sensation” experienced on the back sides of the tongue when you drink red wine. Coffee acidity is a quality in coffee and Guatemalan Antigua specialty coffee has just the right amount of coffee acidity that makes this coffee superb! In addition, the rich volcanic soil conditions, shade grown coffee plantations, natural water supply and weather year round provide a perfect environment for beans that yield excellent specialty coffee. The volcanic conditions are very important because they are a rich source of pumice and organic matter which act as a super fertilizer for the vegetation in the area.
Most of the coffee plantations are along the slopes of the volcanoes. This is actually a dramatic sight to see, particularly when the coffee plants are blooming. The coffee flower is white and the contrast against the dark green leaves with red and green cherries is picture perfect. There are daily winds at this altitude that stir the landscape, lakes, streams and rivers throughout the area. The result is a microclimate that increases wildlife movement throughout the natural coffee habitats. Such wildlife activity spreads seeds and promotes increased natural forestation.
Another reason why the Guatemalan Antigua cup is so good is the fact that Guatemala has preserved more of the traditional Typica and Bourbon varieties of Arabica coffee plants than many other Latin American coffee growing nations. This fact, combined with the rigorously managed coffee shading practices that large and small coffee plantations practice, helps preserve the superior complexity of the Guatemalan Antigua cup.
So, are you ready for a cup of delicious Guatemalan Antigua specialty coffee? If you can, have some “Tres Leches Cake” (Pastel de Tres Leches), a Guatemalan cake soaked in three kinds of milk, including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream. Yes, it is rich, but in moderation, a small bite or two (or three) will not be harmful.