The Coffee Guide

What makes our coffee so special?

Guatemalan Coffee

For over a century, Guatemala has been perfecting the art and science of producing coffee. At Gento we source some of the best coffees from Guatemala, 100% Arabica, and freshly roast them to perfection.

The Gento Coffee Guide

Guatemalan Coffee Regions

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Antigua

Antigua is an internationally renowned tourist destination, but this region’s pleasant climate is also ideal for growing coffees. Resting in a valley between three volcanoes, Antiqua is rich in volcanic soils, low humidity, intense sunshine, and cool night nights. These conditions make Antigua coffee richly aromatic, extremely sweet, and well-balanced. Antigua is also one of two Guatemala regions with a denomination of origin.

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Cobán

Cobán, a region in the northern part of Guatemala, rests in a humid, subtropical forest. The weather is typically cloudy with a few hours of sunlight, high humidity, and year-long rain. In fact, the name Cobán comes from the Maya Kecki word “cob” meaning “the place of clouds.” Coffee from Cobán has a fragrant aroma, medium body, light acidity, and fruit-like flavors.

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Atitlán

This area encompasses all of the lands surrounding Lake Atitlán. Coffee is primarily harvested on the west side of the region near three volcanic mountains, with high precipitation and soil that is rich in minerals and organic matter. Almost 95% of the coffee is cultivated by small producers. Atitlán coffees are full-bodied, aromatic with crisp acidity.

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Huehuetenango

The Huehuetenango region crosses the Sierra de Los Cuchumatanes mountain range. Dry and hot winds from the Tehuantepec plain in Mexico protect the region from frost—allowing coffee to be planted at high altitudes of 5,000-6,000 feet. This elevation is responsible for the region’s unique microclimates. Huehuetenango coffee is high quality, full-bodied with pronounced acidity and pleasant wine notes.

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Fraijanes

This region is located north of Lake Amatitlán in the mountains surrounding the valley where Guatemala City is located. Coffee in Fraijanes is grown at high altitudes—volcanic pumice soil, plenty of rain, and an active volcano characterize the region. Ashes rich in minerals deposited from recent volcanic activity from El Volcán Pacaya and high concentrations of potassium in the soils give Fraijanes coffees a full-bodied mouthfeel. The region has a microclimate influence making it an ideal coffee-growing region and giving it a uniquely balanced flavor profile.

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San Marcos

This is the warmest of Guatemala's coffee-growing regions and also has the highest rainfall. San Marcos has the most intense rainy season and the earliest harvest of any area. The area has a wide range of altitudes with volcanic soil and a microclimate influence from the Pacific Ocean. San Marco’s coffees have delicate floral notes present in the aroma and taste, pronounced acidity, and defined body.

Factors that attribute to our high quality coffees: 

Microclimates

Microclimates, smaller climates that differ from the surrounding area, contribute to the distinct cup profile of each region. The diverse geographic conditions, affected by mountains, volcanoes, rivers, lakes, and influences from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, are responsible for Guatemala’s varied microclimates. These microclimates impact the development of the coffee cherries, creating nuances in each coffee.

Shade-Grown

In Guatemala, 98% of coffees are shade-grown. Beyond the importance of shade to preserve land, biodiversity, and natural ecosystems, shade is important to protect the coffee trees. Additionally, shade-grown coffee allows the cherries to mature slower, allowing more sugars and better flavors to concentrate in each cherry.

Altitude & Soils

The altitude in which coffee is grown directly impacts coffee quality—the higher the altitude, the more pronounced the aroma, sweetness, and acidity. The best coffees are cultivated in soils rich in minerals from volcanic or from limestone deposits. With 34 volcanoes, Guatemalan coffee farmers are blessed with high altitudes and great soils, rich in organic matter and ideal for producing excellent coffees.

Varieties

Varieties are subspecies of plants, and similar to wine or fruit, coffee varietals play a key role in the flavor. At Gento we source the best and most exotic varieties that meet our quality standards. Some of our favorites include Bourbon, Pacamara, Caturra, Catuai, and of course the deliciously famous Gesha.

Processing

All of Guatemala’s coffee is handpicked, picking only the ripest cherries is an important factor for quality and sweetness. Whether fully washed, honeyed, or natural, the meticulous processing methods farmers apply attribute to guaranteeing great flavors in your cup. Most coffees in Guatemala are fully washed, making coffees clean and bright. Honeyed and Natural coffee add distinct floral and fruity characteristics that we also love.

Roasting

To guarantee peak freshness, all of our coffees are roasted to order at our roasting facilities. We work meticulously to perfectly roast each batch and draw out all of the delicious flavors and aromas that are locked inside the beans. Each region’s beans have their own individual qualities. So, we roast each one in small batches to capture their unique flavors and achieve an ideal balance between sweetness, body, and acidity.