Coffee has been growing in Guatemala since the 1750’s, and this beautiful, vibrant country is one of the ten biggest producers in the world. At one stage, coffee accounted for 90% of Guatemala’s exports, and it is still an important export crop. There are an estimated 125,000 coffee farmers in the country, often farming on relatively small farms and plots, with coffee plantation using up about 40% of the available arable land. Many farmers will plant coffee alongside other crops, including macadamia and avocado for exports, and corn, beans, gourds and vegetables for their own consumption.
Much of the coffee-growing areas are at high altitudes, and have volcanic soils, which together with the accumulated expertise of farmers, and the input of the government-backed farmer organisation, Anacafé, mean that excellent quality is possible. Those farmers who are quality-focused will often have their own wet mills and will process their own coffee, drying it on patios in different lots, and supervising the whole process. This gives a fantastic traceability, down sometimes to individual fields, or plots, and this heritage of traceability is backed up by quality. Guatemala coffee has a reputation of producing sweet, well-balanced cups, but there is a huge variety in the flavours that can be found amongst the various regions
Guatemala has been successful in defining the key coffee growing regions, and some, like Antigua, have their own quality marks (Denomination of Origin). Areas such as Huehuetenango, Acatenango, Antigua, Atitlán, Cobán and Fraijanes are all well-known in the specialty coffee world. We have sourced from producers in Huehutenango, Antigua and Acatenango in the past, with the majority coming from Huehuetenango (which is the most enjoyable to pronounce).
The Villatoro’s are one of the finest farming families in Guatemala, evidenced by their regular placing in the Cup of Excellence competitions, and the amount of roasters who come back year after year to buy the coffees the grow. The family run two farms, Villaure, and Esperanza, which neighbour each other in the mountains of Hoja Blanca, at the far western edge of Huehutenango, right on the border with Mexico. Aurelio is the current head of the family, and runs the operations with his sons, Rodin, Jenner & Denis. Esperanza was founded by Aurelio’s parents, Don Eleodoro and Donna Elena, whereas Villaure was started by Aurelio. The family picked up yet more awards in the Cup of Excellence competition this year, placing in the top 30 coffee lots three times, which adds to the multiple awards they’ve collected over the years. At harvesting time, more than 40 of the extended family come together to harvest the cherries, which are processed using various methods, including experimental processes. We have been buying the same coffee, from the La Loma plot on one of the steep hillsides for the last seven years, and it’s one of our all-time favourites.
Guatemalan coffee has a vast range of flavours, but expect to find one or more of: