Guatemala is mountains, bus rides, colorful fruit markets, ‘La Bamba’ on repeat, 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.
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 the 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 meters above sea level, Huehuetenango coffee has a fruit-froward taste, with a light, creamy body and a bright, floral aroma.
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.
- Medium Roast
- Notes of chocolate balanced with smoky undertones
- All-purpose brewing
- Dark Roast
- Dark chocolate, baking spice, nut flavors
- Best for French Press
- Light-medium Roast
- Milk chocolate notes with honey
- Best for espresso brewing
- Dark Roast
- Notes of dark chocolate and caramel-like sweetness
- Best for French Press or Moka Pot
- Medium Roast
- Notes of caramel, milk chocolate, orange fruity flavor, and a citrus aroma
- Best for Cold Brew Immersion
1. Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry Coffee — Best Overall
- Roast: Medium
- Body: Well-rounded smooth
- Flavor Profile: Notes of chocolate balanced with smoky undertones and a sweet, citrusy finish
- Best Brewing Method: All-purpose brewing
- Ground or whole beans: Both
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 that other Guatemalan coffee brands can’t hold a candle to.
Peaberry beans make up only about 5-10% of the average coffee harvest and are a result of 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 with smoky undertones
- Spicy aromas of brown spice and cocoa
- Versatile bean and is best with any brew method
- Roasted to order, whole bean for freshest coffee possible
- Only available in 16 oz. bag
2. Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC Dark Guatemalan Huehuetenango — Best Dark Roast
- Roast: Dark
- Body: Heavy
- Flavor Profile: Dark chocolate, baking spice, nut flavors, and woody aromatics
- Brest Brewing Method: French Press
- Ground or whole beans: Both
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 dark 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 dark blend 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 coffee’s
- Fair-trade and ethically sourced
- Team of taste-testers ensures you always get top-quality coffee beans
- Not as bright as other Guatemalan beans; missing trademark notes of fruit
3. Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Coffee — Best Espresso
- Roast: Light-Medium
- Body: Full-bodied
- Flavor Profile: Milk chocolate with honey, floral brown sugar, and apple-like acidity
- Best Brewing Method: All espresso brewing methods
- Ground or whole beans: Both
The Volcanica Guatemala Antigua Coffee 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 Caribbean 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 a whole bean that’s roasted to order to ensure your coffee stays fresh for longer.
- Coffee bean is grown in volcanic ash for an acidity reminiscent of apples
- Roasted to order whole bean for optimal freshness
- Single-origin bean
- Negative online reviews complain of inconsistency in the taste quality
4. Two Volcanoes Guatemala Coffee — Best Ground Coffee
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 within 2-14 days of grinding. With Two Volcanoes, the packaging has a built-in degassing valve which adds just as much shelf-life to the ground as a whole bean.
This feature ensures that only natural gases from the bean escape the bag, with no air or CO2 leaking into the bag and staling your coffee.
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.
- Degassing valve packaging protects your ground beans from the air and keeps your coffee fresh
- Small batch roasted for evenly distributed heat and an even roast
- Large 2 lb. size makes
- Expensive shipping costs
5. Cooper’s Cask Guatemalan Coffee Cold Brew — Best Cold Brew
- Roast: Medium
- Body: Well-rounded
- Flavor Profile: Notes of caramel, milk chocolate, orange fruity flavor, and a citrus aroma
- Best Brewing Method: Cold Brew Immersion
- Ground or whole beans: Both
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 scorching summer heat?
Cooper’s makes this ground bean available in both coarse and fine grind sizes, making it a great, customizable bean for any acidic level preferences.
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 in coarse and fine grind sizes
- 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 charcoaled, 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.
Two things to consider when thinking about type is a) your type of bean and b) your best brewing method.
Are you looking for ground or whole beans? With pre-ground coffee beans, the convenience of not having to grind your beans and wake the house up to the ol’ grinder motor is traded for shelf life. Pre-ground coffee only lasts between 2-14 days before the tasting notes become polluted by air exposure.
If this is a concern for you, stick to the Two Volcanoes ground coffee beans with their degassing valve, as opposed to other Guatemalan ground coffee varieties you may find not listed here.
Whole bean coffee, though adding an extra step to your coffee routine, is widely considered the better option for keeping your beans tasting fresh. The top-notch Volcanica Peaberry, Volcanica Antigua, the Dark Guatemalan Huehuetenango, and the Cooper’s Cask are all excellent whole beans that will last longer than a ground coffee blend.
All things brewing, you’ll have to consider how to get the most flavor out of the brewing machine(s) you have available to you.
The French Press, Moka Pot, and espresso brewing methods mentioned above will highlight the best of these Guatemalan coffees by slowly extracting the intense aromas and rich flavor profiles. Just as the coffee farmers intended.
While this will give you a bolder, more noticeable flavor, this may be too much of a time investment for some. In the fast-paced, instant world we live in today, these brew methods may just take too much manual effort and time, especially if you’re used to single-pod technology like Nespresso or Keurig.
At the end of the day, you get what you give, and if you’re willing to wait and work for it, you’ll have the incomparable taste that is Guatemalan coffee.
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, with bold floral and citrus notes and decadent chocolate and caramel flavor.
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!