Top 7 Best Guatemalan Coffee Beans in 2021 - Reviewed
Tired of the same good-old Colombian or Brazilian coffee? Craving something with extra oomph? Guatemalan coffee to the rescue! We won't claim it's the best in the world, but it comes very close to the top. Whether you love a bold flavor or bright acidity, you'll find a delicious single-origin bean from Guatemala to hit your every sweet spot. Check out the seven varieties we've hand-picked for your first brew.
Best Guatemala Coffee Beans in 2021: Everything You Need to Know
It's shocking so few people realize Guatemala is among the world's top coffee producers and exporters. On the other hand, local farmers did not realize the full potential of coffee trees for a whole century. The first plants were introduced in the middle of the 18th century, but they were used for ornamental purposes, and only a hundred years later, local farmers started harvesting the beans. In a hurry to catch up with neighboring exporters, Guatemalan growers kicked the coffee industry into high gear within a couple of decades. And for a long time, this country was the largest Central American coffee producer. Honduras managed to overtake Guatemala only recently, in 2011.
There are eight major Guatemala coffee regions, all with slightly varying conditions, though most of them are ideal for Arabica trees. The high elevation of the plantations (between 1,600 and 16,400 feet) encourages slow ripening of the cherries and results in a complex, full-bodied coffee. The acidity levels vary depending on the humidity level, but most beans come with strong notes of chocolate, fruit, and flowers.
If you're worried about mycotoxins and mold, Guatemalan beans are perfect for you. Most growers rely on the wet process that removes the pulp from the cherries before they are sun-dried. This process might not eliminate the toxins fully, but it sure reduces the risk of contamination.
Now that you're up to speed on the history and current state of affairs, here's how you find the best Guatemalan coffee:
- It’s 100% Arabica. While there's no mention of any law prohibiting Robusta farming, the best varieties rely exclusively on Arabica beans. The trees might be a bit harder to grow, but the java they produce is much tastier without the overpowering bitterness or acidity.
- It’s single-origin. Blends are always cheaper and easier to come by, especially if you pair Guatemalan beans with Brazilian beans or Colombian produce. The problem is, the high concentration of 'filler' beans can easily overpower the authentic taste of Antigua or Huehuetenango-grown Arabica. If you want to get to know Guatemala coffee, chose single-origin varieties that highlight the local flavors instead of masking them.
- It's whole-bean. If you don't own a grinder, buying pre-ground coffee is your only option. Still, we always recommend choosing the whole bean to achieve the best taste. Besides, you can use different grinding settings for your espresso machine, cold brew, or AeroPress. The pre-ground version does not offer the same level of flexibility.
- It’s freshly roasted. Don't settle for 'best before' date! Every self-respecting roaster puts the roasting date on the bag to let you know how fresh the beans are. A month or two after roasting is the best time to enjoy your java.
- It's shade-grown and organic. Unfortunately, you can't expect every Guatemalan plantation to take the chemicals-free route. Check our reviews for USDA Organic certified coffee. You'll also see the seal on the bags, along with the Fair Trade logo. There's something especially satisfying about the coffee that's good for you and the planet.
Before we dissect the pros and cons of every coffee on our shortlist, here's a quick glimpse into the darker side of the Guatemalan coffee industry. In 2013, most of the farms were contaminated with rust that decimated 70% to 90% of the crop. It was a major hit for the industry, and it took several years for plantations to recover. That same year, an investigation into local labor practices found that some farmers relied on child labor. Both crises have been mostly resolved in recent years, so now you can enjoy a perfect cuppa of Guatemalan brew guilt-free.
Our Top 7 Picks for Guatemalan Coffee Brands
Only one in ten or twenty coffee cherries produces peaberry, making it the coffee aficionado's unicorn. This single-origin bean by Volcanica combines the unique flavor complexity of the peaberry beans with the rich, spicy nuances of traditional Guatemalan java. Its heavy body, bright flavor, and sweet finish make this a perfect choice for a connoisseur who doesn't try to mask the taste with sugar or milk. Although, we believe this coffee tastes just as smooth in a cappuccino or latte as it does black.
Volcanica Guatemala Peaberry Coffee Review
- Single-origin 100% Arabica peaberry
- Medium roasted
- Heavy body with spicy notes and a sweet finish
You've got to love Volcanica for the number of choices they provide us with. If you're not ready to take on the arduous task of grinding the beans at home, you can always go for the ground version. In fact, there are several, suited to every brewing method, from espresso to French press and beyond. The standard bag is 16 oz, which is enough to last you a month if you settle for a cuppa or two per day. If you need more than that, go big with a 5-pound bag or a 3-pack.
Is this coffee for everyone? Definitely not. It's a polar opposite of what you'll find in Costco or Starbucks, so don't go comparing the three, as some buyers do in their reviews. This single-origin java is way more sophisticated and complex, suitable for a true gourmet looking to broaden their horizons. Add it to your shopping list if you're already in love with peaberry and Guatemalan java but haven't managed to combine the two in one cup.
Java Planet Guatemalan USDA Organic Coffee Beans Review
- Single-origin organic Arabica
- Medium roasted in small batches
- Creamy body with notes of fruit, chocolate, and caramel
This single-origin Arabica will instantly get on your must-have list after the first sip. It boasts a creamy body with a complex flavor palette full of caramel, chocolate, and fruit nuances. The medium roast brings delicious notes to the fore without adding excessive bitterness to the aftertaste. In fact, the sweet finish is so pleasant, you won't be able to forget it until you brew yourself another cuppa. And we've found it tastes delicious in an espresso or cappuccino, as well as AeroPress and French press.
If the taste alone isn't enough to convince you to try this java, maybe the company's dedication to environmentally friendly practices will. First, the beans are sourced from the shade-grown trees, which are way safer for the planet. Second, the plantations are GMO and pesticide-free, which earned the company the USDA Organic seal of approval. Finally, this coffee is certified Bird Friendly, making it the perfect choice for every nature lover.
What's good for the planet has to be good for you too! Unsurprisingly, most buyers are raving about the taste and the environmental stance of Java Planet. One of the reviews caught our attention by claiming these beans eliminated heartburn. So while the company doesn't market this coffee as low-acid, its organic growing conditions are definitely healthier and less likely to cause acid reflux and other digestive issues for you.
Dam Good Coffee Guatemalan Dark Roast Review
- Single-origin, organic Arabica
- Dark roast with an intense flavor
- Fair Trade, USDA Organic certified
The name of the brand says it all. The coffee is actually that good. We believe the taste is partially due to the organically grown Arabica from high-altitude Guatemalan plantations. The small-batch dark roasting is another success factor. Unlike most of the varieties on this list, Dam Good Coffee lets you enjoy the bean's deeper flavor without the complexity of nuanced notes. You get the intense smoky, chocolatey flavor with a memorable aftertaste that's in no way bitter or sour.
The best thing about this coffee is its versatility. It tastes awesome from an espresso machine, French press, or a percolator. Enjoy it black or add a dash of milk and a spoonful of sugar to complement the powerful flavor. It may even be suitable for cold brew, though we haven't tried it that way.
Although the brand isn't as popular as others on our shortlist, it's definitely worth checking out, especially if you're into dark roasts. Most buyers agree it lives up to the name and praise the bold flavor. The company offers a 100% refund if you don't enjoy the purchase, so it might be worth trying even if you prefer lighter and brighter coffees. In case this variety is too intense for you, request your money back and try another one of Dam Good products.
Two Volcanoes Coffee Review
- San Marcos-grown single-origin Arabica
- Medium roasted in small batches in Guatemala
- Cheaper when bought in bulk
Who knows how to treat Guatemalan beans better than the local roasters? If you wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, Two Volcanoes will be right up your alley. The single-origin Arabica beans are shade-grown at the foot of the two volcanoes in the San Marcos region. The highest temperature and humidity level of all Guatemalan plantations produce a smooth and balanced flavor further emphasized by the wet processing and small-batch medium roasting by local artisans.
To taste the essence of Guatemalan beans, treat yourself to a one-pound bag. And once you're sure this is the java for you, invest in a 6-pound package. It's way more affordable when you buy in bulk, so even this exotic variety won't break the bank. Notice how the beans are packaged soon after roasting. The bags are sealed, but the degassing valve lets the beans let go of the gas without introducing oxygen and fouling the taste.
The staggering number of positive reviews was our first clue that this java is worthy of being on our rotation. Most buyers are very happy with the taste, regardless of the brewing method. However, some have received stale beans, which might be caused by shipping delays due to international travel and shipping restrictions. Considering there's no roasting date on the bag, you should pay attention to the expiration date and try to contact the seller for a refund or a replacement if your coffee arrives late. This variety would have been on the top of our list, if not for these issues.
Cubico Guatemala Antigua Coffee Review
- Antigua-grown single-origin Arabica
- Medium roasted in small batches
- Medium body with tangy citrus notes
Antigua is the most well-known and loved of the Guatemalan coffee growing regions, as coffee snobs worldwide will testify. This java is set apart from other beans by its medium body and aroma with a mouth-tingling acidity of orange and lemon notes underlined by a smoother nuance of milk chocolate. It's a delicious combination with a pleasant aftertaste and zero bitterness.
As with other single-origin beans, Cubico relies on a small-batch medium roasting to ensure consistent taste from one bag to the next. And every package comes with the roasting and best-by dates, so you will always know exactly how fresh your java is. Despite its high-end origin and artisanal processing, this outstanding coffee is pretty affordable, though we wish they'd offer larger bags aside from the 12 oz and the 16 oz packs.
To be honest, some of the reviews confused us. Buyers complain about this coffee being sour, unlike any bean they've tasted before. It's like people don't do any research before shopping! Guatemalan Antigua coffee is well-known for the tangy flavor that sets it apart from other beans grown in the country. So if you're not a fan of bright acidity, move on to the next entry on our shortlist, but if citrusy notes are exactly what you're looking for, add this item to your cart.
Fresh Roasted Dark Guatemalan Coffee
- Huehuetenango-grown single-origin Arabica
- Dark roasted with bold flavor
- Rich and smooth with little to no acidity
Should you give up on Guatemala if you don't like your cuppa to be too acidic? Of course not! All you need to do is step away from Antigua and give Huehuetenango-grown beans a try. This particular variety by Fresh Roasted Co combines the richness of the Arabica flavor with a surprisingly smooth dark roast. The result is a velvety flavor full of smoky and spicy notes and free of that acidic tang you want to avoid.
The standard bag is only 12 oz, which is great for trying out new beans, but it's nowhere near enough to satisfy your daily caffeine cravings. Luckily, Fresh Roasted offers plenty of packaging options, including 2-pound and 5-pound bags that make the price tag incredibly affordable considering the superb quality of the beans. And if you don't own a grinder, you can order one of the three ground varieties (coarse, drip, or fine).
This variety is actually Amazon's choice among the Guatemala coffee beans, and there are hundreds of reviews supporting this recommendation. Buyers claim that despite the dark roast, the taste is smooth and rich, without too much bitterness or acidity. Surprisingly, some reviews claim the roast isn't dark enough if that's even possible without charring the beans. We've noticed some shipping issues mentioned in the reviews, but those are hardly the roaster's fault.
All things considered, this coffee is our top recommendation if you're new to Guatemalan java and want to develop good taste when it comes to single-origin Central American beans.
Maddat Coffee Guatemala Huehuetenango Coffee Whole Bean Review
- Huehuetenango-grown medium-roasted Arabica
- Subtle flavor with fruity and flowery notes
- Shade-grown, USDA organic, Fair Trade
This coffee is all the proof you need to understand how roasting can alter the beans' flavor. Where Fresh Roasted offers a bold and intense flavor thanks to the dark roast, Maddat takes Huehuetenango-grown Arabica and turns it into a mellow drink using medium roast. As a result, you get a more nuanced flavor full of fruity and flowery notes and a pleasant aftertaste that lingers.
We were slightly disappointed by the sole packaging offer of a 12 oz bag; that's just not enough to last a month for a casual coffee drinker, never mind a caffeine addict. The beans seemed a bit overpriced at first, but it turned out the company donates as much as half of the profit to humanitarian organizations, so the money goes to a good cause. We'd like to see a couple of ground options, but the whole bean will likely suit everyone with a grinder or an espresso machine.
As one of the least publicized varieties on our shortlist, this coffee has its fair share of devoted fans praising the flavor and buying bag after bag to stock up the pantry. However, we've found a couple of not-so-glowing reviews that claim the taste is too bland. Considering the beans are marketed to be smooth and subtle rather than bold, we believe those comments are nothing but a misunderstanding. This product is definitely worth a try if you're in the mood for a mellow cuppa and want to help make our world a better place.
The Verdict. What Are the Best Guatemala Coffee Beans?
Don't go choosing your favorite coffee until you try at least a couple of Guatemala-grown varieties! With seven outstanding options on this list, we've had a hard time choosing just one to recommend. So we're taking the easy way out and offering you a winner and a runner-up. If you're into rich, bold, powerful flavors and dark roasts with minimal acidity, Fresh Roasted Dark Guatemalan Coffee is a sure winner. However, if you want more tang in your morning cuppa, go with Cubico Guatemala Antigua Coffee, the one you've heard so much about.
As always, we're happy to learn about your experience with Guatemala java and hear about your faves.
Is All Coffee in Guatemala the Same?Despite its modest size, the country boasts eight distinct coffee-growing regions. The different elevations, soil composition, temperature, and humidity levels result in slight variations of flavor nuances emphasized by roasting. Antigua beans are the most popular, but their taste profile is much different from other regions.
What’s the Deal with Guatemala Antigua Coffee?The plantations are high up in the mountains, well protected from the cold fronts and extreme humidity of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. As a result, the beans grown here enjoy a complex flavor with uniquely bright acidity that sets them apart from other Guatemalan beans. The only region that comes close to Antigua Arabica is Fraijanes.
What’s the Best Way to Brew Coffee from Guatemala?Thanks to the rich flavor, you have a wide range of brewing options. French press, drip, pour-over, and espresso machine are all well-suited to produce a delicious, well-rounded cuppa. However, you can also cold brew Guatemala beans to bring out their sweetness and lighten the acidity. Don't forget to match the grinding setting to the brewing method.