Coffee News: from Seed to Cup

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Guatemala

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The Guatemalan coffee scene is unrecognisable from four years ago. Today, there are third wave cafés all over the country. Our local coffee beans have incredible potential – and more and more of them are achieving that, thanks to an increasing awareness of specialty production methods.

So if you’re visiting, there’s no need to drink anything less than the best coffee. Here’s my recommendations for a specialty coffee shop tour of Guatemala.

Spanish Version: Recorrido de Tiendas de Café de Especialidad en Guatemala

Coffee shop GuatemalaCafé Divino in Guatemala City. Credit: Café Divino

Why These Eight?

Picking the best coffee shops in Guatemala would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Instead I’ve chosen eight of my personal favourites, all ones which I believe will introduce you to the diversity of my country’s coffee and cafés. They’re all owned and staffed by passionate baristas. And they’re all in a good spot for visitors to Guatemala.

Coffee shop in Guatemala A barista makes a Chemex at El Injerto Café in Guatemala City. Credit: El Injerto Café

Guatemala City

If you’re travelling through Guatemala, Guatemala City is unmissable – for a start, it’s where you’ll fly into the country. And although many people choose to skip it, staying in nearby Antigua instead, the capital has some incredible museums, galleries, and specialty coffee shops.

In no particular order, here are four cafés that will give you a taste of the country’s coffee.

  • Café Divino:

Founded last year by “Teco” Echeverría and Héctor González , Café Divino focuses on consumer education. With Teco the National Barista Champion 2014 and Héctor the World Cup Tasters Champion 2010, you’re in the perfect place to learn about making and drinking coffee. Yet this expert team is also keen to help consumers’ learn about the farming and processing methods.

Where 4th Avenue 14-10, zona 10
Espresso Machine Appia 2 Simonelli
Grinder Anfim Caimano
Roaster Roasted in-house
Coffee Offerings Coffees from Nuevo Oriente in eastern Guatemala (Jutiapa, Jalapa, Zacapa, Chiquimula and Esquipulas), served as espresso or filter
Must-Try Drink Flat white
Food Pastries and sandwiches
Nearby Sights Zona 10 has several bus companies; numerous fancy hotels, restaurants, and bars; Zona Viva, an area renowned for its nightlife; the Ixchel Museum of Traditional Costumes; the Popol Vuh Museum; the Jardines Botánico; and In Nola, a textiles market that also sells souvenirs.

Owners of Cafe Divino Teco and Héctor, owners and founders. Credit: Café Divino

  • El Injerto Café

El Injerto Café isn’t just specialty, it’s also specialist: they serve coffee solely from Finca El Injerto, which is renowned for winning Cup of Excellence year after year after year. They offer multiple varietals from the farm, and you can learn all about the differences in their Escuela de Café (“School of Coffee”). What’s more, it’s a comfortable place to spend some time before seeing the nearby sights or heading to the airport.

Where 9a calle 15-15, zona 13 (ignore the address Google suggests, which puts the café on 10A calle)
Atmosphere Welcoming
Espresso Machine Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II
Grinder Simonelli MDX On Demand
Roaster Diedrich IR-24, Joper Sample Roaster
Coffee Offerings A range of varietals from Finca El Injerto, Huehuetenango: Gesha, Mokka, Pacamara, Maragogype, Bourbon, Peaberry… all either as espresso (light dark roast) or filter (light roast).
Food Sandwiches and pastries
Nearby Sights Zona 13 has the airport and Transportes de Sol bus company, the Archaeology and Ethnology Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Aurora Zoo, and an artisan market.

Coffee school El Injerto

Learn about your drink in El Injerto Café’s Escuela de Café. Credit: El Injerto Café

  • Rojo Cerezo

Red is the colour of passion and rojo cerezo the red coffee cherry. For café founder Rogelio Dávila, his shop’s name represents not just perfectly ripe coffee but also his passion for it. He makes sure to always have different coffees in each week, and is renowned for his cold brew.

Where Via 4 1-30, zona 4
Atmosphere Young and fun
Espresso Machine Nuova Simonelli
Grinder Espressos are ground on an Anfim, while a Mahlkönig is used for filter coffees
Roaster Coffees are roasted in-house
Coffee Offerings Single origin microlots that are constantly rotating
Must-Try Drinks Their cold brew and any of their 90+ microlots
Food Sandwiches, cookies, and artisanal food
Nearby Sights Zona 4 has the city’s tourist information, the national theatre, and the trendy 4 Grados Norte with its bars, restaurants, shops, and cultural activities.

 

Coffee shop Rojo Cerezo

A crowd gathers inside Rojo Cerezo. Credit: Rogelio Dávila

  • Paradigma Coffee Roasters

For Raul Rodas, World Barista Champion 2012, coffee should break paradigms – and that’s the philosophy his coffee house and roastery is based on. He’s been working in the coffee industry as a barista, roaster, and social worker for 10 years. Now he wants to help Guatemalans enjoy drinking high-quality specialty coffee in his café.

Where Local 2, Via 5, 1-75 Zona 4 (in the fashionable 4 Grados Norte)
Espresso Machine Victoria Arduino and Athena Leva (the World Barista Champion prize in 2012)
Grinder Anfim Super Caimano
Roaster Ambex
Coffee Offerings Coffee from Finca Isnul and Finca La Maravilla in Huehuetenango, Santa Felisa in Acatenango, Los Jocotales in Ciudad Vieja, and farms in Nuevo Oriente and El Quiché.
Must-Try Drinks Cold Brew with Amaretto and an Amarula Shake
Food Cupcakes, pastry, and cookies
Nearby Sights Zona 4 has the city’s tourist information, the national theatre, and the trendy 4 Grados Norte with its bars, restaurants, shops, and cultural activities.

 

espresso

Attention to detail at Paradigma Coffee Roasters. Credit: Paradigma Coffee Roasters

Antigua

Antigua’s many colonial buildings and churches are but part of the reason this volcano-ringed city is a World Heritage Site. It also used to be the Kingdom of Guatemala’s capital. It lies conveniently close to Guatemala City and, with its beautiful architecture and excellent coffee shops, there are no excuses to not visit.

In no particular order, here are two must-visit coffee shops in the city:

  • Fat Cat Coffee House

“The best coffee is the one you like,” say founders Gerson “Gato Gordo” and Tito Otzoy. This family business is popular among visitors to Guatemala, and plans to open a roastery inside the café soon.

Where 14A, calle Oriente 4a
Espresso Machine Astoria
Grinder Anfim
Roaster They rent a machine from Roastery Aria
Coffee Offerings Coffees from San Jerónimo Miramar in Patulul, Barberena in Santa Rosa, Acatenango, and Antigua as espresso (medium roast) or filter (light roast)
Must-Try Drink Japanese Iced Coffee
Food Paninis, pastries, and cookies
Nearby Sights Plaza Mayor Park, the Cathedral, the Arts and Crafts Market, Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the Colonial Art Museum, City Hall, and numerous churches. A little further away, you’ll also find Museum Casa Poponoe.

 

Fat Cat Coffee mug

Coffee at Fat Cat Coffee House.Credit: Fat Cat Coffee House

SEE ALSO: Making the Case for Guatemalan Coffee

  • Cafe La Parada:

This Italian-style coffee shop sits in front of La Merced Church and counts many locals among its regulars. Founder Manuel Arreola believes in “serving coffee in a traditional way, something that people are becoming more attracted to”. Yet despite its traditional values, it’s at the forefront of attitudes towards specialty. It serves single origin coffees as well as some some blends of varietals from the same farm.

Where 6ta avenida Norte #42
Espresso Machine Astoria Argenta
Grinder Astoria Rossi
Roaster Roastery Aria
Coffee Offerings Single origins from Huehuetenango
Must-Try Drink Espresso
Food Croissant and cookies
Nearby Sights La Merced Church, along with several other churches; it’s also next to the main bus stop.

        Espresso

Espresso at Cafe La Parada. Credit: Cafe La Parada

Jalapa

This city lies in the Nuevo Oriente region, nestled between the Jalapa Mountains, Alcoba and Arluta Mountains, and the Jumay Volcano. Situated in the southeast, two hours from Guatemala City, it’s a good opportunity to get into the countryside: climb Jumay Volcano, trek to beautiful valleys with hidden waterfalls, and see some of that beautiful coffee you’ve been drinking.

  • La Fábrica:

Founder Zach Daggett is originally from New Hampshire in the U.S., but today he’s part of the fabric of Japala. With quality-orientated methods and direct trade links, he sets out to make sure that the people who grow coffee also get to drink the best coffee. He also offers tours of his suppliers’ farms with the purpose of educating baristas, roasters, and coffee lovers.

Where Monjas
Espresso Machine Nuova Simonelli Appia
Grinder Nuova Simonelli MDX
Roaster Roasted in house by Zach Daggett
Coffee Offerings Coffee from Jalapa, Huehuetenango, Cobán, Antigua, and San Marcos
Must-Try Drink Cold brew
Food Crepes, paninis, pizzas, and pastries
Nearby Sights Cerro Alto Parque Ecologico, the pools and waterfalls on Los Chorros, and the coffee farms Zach will take you round.

Barista Zach Daggett

Zach of La Fábrica brews some coffee. Credit: Zach Daggett

Panjachel

On the shores of Lake Atitlán, “Pana” is a small but bustling town filled with tourists from Guatemala City, Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil Mayans selling traditional souvenirs, and more. Don’t miss the stunning view of volcanoes across the lake.

  • Café Loco:

You’ll never taste the same drink twice at Café Loco. They rotate their coffee offerings weekly, and are always experimenting with new drinks. Founder Diego Kim has 10 years of experience in the industry, and his team of Martín, Lisa, Buda and Hugo are just as passionate and knowledgeable about coffee.

Coffee shop staff

The team at Café Loco. Credit: Café Loco

Where Calle Santander
Espresso Machine La Marzocco GB5 3 Group
Grinder Mahlkonig K30 Air
Roaster Stronghold S7
Coffee Offerings Rotating coffees that change each week
Must-Try Drink COWABUNGA (matcha, chocolate made in-house, and espresso)
Food Their chocolate brownies – again, the chocolate is made in house
Nearby Sights Go scuba diving or kayaking in the lake, hike up mountains, visit Reserva Natural Atitlán, and shop for souvenirs


Coffee cap

Lake Atitlán. Credit: Café Loco

Written in Spanish by L. Pimentel and translated into English by A. K. Molina Ospina.

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.

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