Guatemala is mountains, bus rides, colorful fruit markets, and home of the Mayans; there is so much to be said and to be seen in Guatemala. It is also most known for coffee.
Guatemalan coffee is some of the most floral and fruitiest in the world, with lavish, sweet tasting notes and creamy caramel and chocolate flavor.
No better coffee encapsulates this than our front-runner for best bean, the Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry blend. Let’s break down why that’s the case and talk about all things Guatemalan java.
Our Top Picks At A Glance
A lot of sleepless, caffeine fuelled nights went into researching these blends, and we’re proud to say these are the beans that ticked the boxes for us. Here are the best of the best Guatemalan coffee beans.
Guatemalan Coffee Traditions
The coffee plant arrived in Guatemala by the mid-1700s, and it was first planted in La Antigua on the site of the Jesuit convent Compaña de Jesús. Jesuit missionaries brought coffee trees to be used for, get this, “ornamentation.” Imagine having a Lamborghini just to stare at the paint job…
It took 100 years since coffee’s arrival for it to be enjoyed by Guatemalans and seen as an opportunity for economic growth and trade.
By the 1800s, Guatemala’s famous indigo and cochineal dye industry was collapsing due to the rising popularity of synthetic alternatives in Europe. As a result, the country looked for new and viable exports and a production source to lessen the economic blow.
Coffee Has Entered The Chat
By 1859, over half a million coffee seeds were planted. Many coffee farms didn’t have access to enough labor to harvest or the connections to trade on a global scale. It took investments and the purchase of coffee plantations from foreign coffee brands to see a boom in the industry.
By 1890, 90% of Guatemala’s exports were coffee, and people worldwide were impressed with the country’s signature blend of rich flavor, complex aromas, and balanced acidity.
Most notably, Guatemalan coffee varietals tended to stem from Bourbon, Typica, and the Ethiopian Geisha. They still do to this day.
Guatemala’s unique climate of volcanic regions with pronounced rainy seasons, dry seasons, and exceeding heights of over 1000 meters allow the coffee bean to flourish. Among the eight signature Guatemalan coffee regions, three of them are the country’s biggest contributions to excellent, organic coffee.
Antigua — Surrounded by three active volcanoes, Antigua is an atypical coffee region with rich, fertile soil. Their coffee is famous for notes of spice and smoke with strong hints of chocolate and caramel with a citrus and floral aroma.
San Marcos — Between the dense forests of Güisayote and Celaque, San Marcos has an earlier growing season than other Guatemalan regions. The coffee from San Marcos is known for its smooth body with citrus and caramel notes. It’s not uncommon to find notes of mandarin orange, lemon, and grapefruit in these blends.
Huehuetenango — At the foot of the Cuchumatanes mountains, 6200 feet above sea level, Huehuetenango coffee has a fruit-froward taste, with a light, creamy body and a bright, floral aroma.
The Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry is the quintessential coffee bean that embodies the spirit of Guatemalan coffee. This medium-roasted, single-origin coffee bean has a rich body with all the sweet, complex flavors other Guatemalan coffee brands can’t hold a candle to.
Peaberry beans make up only about 5-10% of the average coffee harvest and result from a natural mutation in robusta and arabica coffees. This happens when inside the coffee cherry, an ovule fails to pollinate, and a rounder, fuller seed grows in its place.
In the art of coffee making, coffee connoisseurs agree that peaberry beans taste noticeably sweeter with a bright acidity level and dense, complex flavors.
Best in the coffee belt
The Volcanica Peaberry has mouthwatering flavor notes of chocolate, juicy strawberries, and balanced, lively acidity. It’s a chocolatey coffee in all savory senses of the word, and with the combination of sweetness, it will make your coffee experience delicious.
This roast also carries a strong aroma of brown spice and cocoa to delight the senses and make any coffee house full of the vibrant, signature smell of Guatemalan Antigua beans.
This versatile bean can also be brewed to perfection using any machine. To bring out the strawberry sweetness and vibrant acidity, grind your Peaberry beans coarser for better brewing.
The Peaberry is also roasted to order, meaning you get a crisp, freshly roasted bean to make your new favorite coffee.
- Dense, complex Peaberry taste
- Exemplifies Guatemalan Antigua coffee, with chocolaty, strawberry flavor profile
- Versatile bean and is best with any brew method
- Roasted to order
- 16 oz. bag is smallest size available
There is so much to love about the Dark Guatemalan Huehuetenango. Produced by Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, they pride themselves in providing the freshest possible beans to coffee enthusiasts.
Each coffee at Fresh Roasted LLC is tested by a team of taste-testers and an audience of coffee drinkers. You’re sure to always get the finest, top-notch beans. The Dark Guatemalan blend is also sustainably sourced and roasted using a Loring Roaster to reduce environmental impact.
While this blend is lacking in the floral notes and sweet flavor Guatemala is known for, it is a darker roast with a deep, earthy flavor. The Guatemala Huehuetenango features a flavor with hints of dark chocolate, baking spice, nutty flavors, and woody aromatics.
This coffee bean is best for the coffee lover who takes their coffee black and packs a punch of bold flavor with a hint of spice. It is best prepared in a French Press or drip coffee maker to gradually release the coffee’s strength and heavy body.
- Milder acidity level than other Guatemalan coffees
- Fair-trade and ethically sourced
- Team of taste-testers ensures you always get top-quality coffee beans
- Freshly roasted
- Not as bright as other Guatemalan beans; missing trademark notes of fruit
The Antigua Coffee by Volcanica makes for a bean unlike any other, with a silky smooth texture and notes of milk chocolate, honey, floral brown sugar, and apples. To take this complex flavor to the next level, espresso brewing is the way to go.
The fruity notes of apple come from an apple-like acidity found in this coffee bean. This single-origin bean is grown and harvested in volcanic ash between two volcanoes, which is where you can find the characteristic acidity of this blend.
Volcanica Coffee has taken everything about growing in Antigua and refined it, giving us this unique, complex specialty coffee bean.
As with the Volcanica Peaberry, the Antigua Coffee is roasted to order to ensure your coffee stays fresh for longer. Alternatively, you can order it ground with the option of several grind sizes.
- Coffee bean is grown in volcanic ash for an acidity reminiscent of apples
- Single-origin bean with characteristic notes
- Roasted to order whole bean for optimal freshness
- 16 oz. bag is smallest size available
Sourced from the mountainous regions of their San Marcos estate, Two Volcanoes Coffee is the ideal ground coffee for Guatemalan coffee lovers.
The problem with ground coffee is it doesn’t keep as well as a whole bean, as the ground bean should be consumed as soon as possible. Two Volcanoes try to counter that with its built-in degassing valve in its packaging, adding some of the shelf-life to the grounds. Still, it’s better to consume it earlier than later.
With batch coffee roasting, the smaller, the better. Two Volcanoes roast in small batch sizes, making for even heat distribution and ensuring you get an even, perfect roast every time.
This bean is a blend of dark chocolate and caramel notes. While the trademark Guatemalan, lighter roast fruit notes are more subtle and understated here, it’s still a savory cup of coffee with a full-bodied smooth finish.
- Small batch roasted for evenly distributed heat and an even roast
- Light and subtle fruit notes
- Large 32 oz. bag
- Only available ground
The Cooper’s Cask Coffee Cold Brew is a must for cold brew coffee lovers and an even bigger must if you don’t have AC. What better way to cool off from the scorching summer heat?
Cooper’s makes this bean available in both whole and ground. We always recommend buying coffee beans whole, as they stay fresh and preserve their flavor notes much longer.
This bean coffee is specifically roasted for that satisfying cold brew taste. They’re also roasted in small batches, similarly to Two Volcanoes, making for an even, flawless roast.
Cooper’s Cask features a delicious flavor profile of creamy caramel, milk chocolate, and a hint of orange zest with a citrus aroma. It’s best prepared as a cold brew immersion; it will leave your coffee smooth and less bitter than conventionally brewed.
- Available whole and ground
- Small batch roasted for a more even roast level and taste
- Specifically roasted for a cold brew coffee taste
- May arrive stale; inconsistent quality
In order to find the perfect Guatemalan cup of coffee for you, here are some things to consider before you buy.
The roast level is huge here and corresponds with your flavor profile. As the raw, green coffee bean roasts and cracks, the natural, organic and complex flavors are stripped away the longer they’re exposed to heat.
The roasting process is completed after the first crack. You’ll get a fruitier, more floral taste to your coffee, with a sweet and citrusy aroma and a light, creamy body. If this sounds right up your alley, look at the Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Coffee.
After the second crack, the roasting process is completed. You’re going to get a deeper, richer coffee with more savory notes of milk chocolate, caramel, and honey, with a subtle hint of smokiness.
The fruity flavors are still there, but you’ll get a more understated aftertaste of citrus. If this sounds enticing, look at Cooper’s Cask or our favorite, the Volcanica Guatemalan Peaberry.
The longest roasting process and completed after the third crack. Your coffee will be full-bodied and dense, with notes of dark chocolate, an earthy, nutty flavor, and woody aromatics.
The danger with dark roasts is over-roasting your beans which takes all the flavor away from your cup of coffee and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. In other words: bad coffee.
But that’s what the professionals are for. If you like a big slap in the face of complex, full-bodied flavor in the morning, look for the Two Volcanoes Guatemala Coffee. Alternatively, choose the Dark Guatemalan Huehuetenango from Fresh Roasted LLC.
Fresh Is Always Best
We always recommend buying whole beans, as they preserve flavor notes and aromas much longer than pre-ground beans. Oxidation starts to kick in right after grinding, leaving you with a sub-par coffee taste.
But I get it, some people value convenience higher than top-notch taste. If that’s you, all our options listed here are available pre-ground. Make sure you choose the right grind size for your preferred brewing method. The Two Volcanoes Coffee is only available pre-ground. With their special degassing valve, they try to get some of the shelf life back. Plus, at least you will not be waking the house up when preparing your cups early in the morning.
Whole bean coffee, though adding an extra step to your coffee routine, is the better option for keeping your beans tasting fresh. Make sure to consume them within a month of the date of roasting to get the most out of your beans.
With so many of our favorite blends stemming from Central American coffee production, Guatemala is no different as an industry leader in delicious, complex, and exciting coffee.
The most exciting coffee and our best overall is the Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry with a mouthwatering flavor profile and beautiful aroma. It’s a versatile, all-purpose brewing bean roasted to order.
Guatemalan coffee continues to push the boundaries and elevate the world of java lovers, with the Volcanica Peaberry as the standard, quintessential bean of the country. Don’t believe us? Try for yourself; happy brewing!