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What is Guatemala Antigua Coffee? History & Brewing Tips

Guatemala Antigua Coffee_shutterstock_Oliver Colthart

The coffee fincas (farms) of Antigua valley are known for their premium, one-of-a-kind coffee. Guatemala Antigua coffee one of the most popular coffee types in South America, coming from a country that is the 8th biggest producer and exporter of coffee beans. Guatemala prides itself on its coffee production, with regions that specialize in their own flavors and beans. If you’ve heard of Guatemala Antigua Coffee, but you’re not sure what it is, read on to find out what it is and why it’s so popular:

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All About Guatemala Antigua Coffee:

Where does it come from?

Guatemala Antigua coffee comes from the volcanic valley of Antigua, one of many coffee-growing regions in Guatemala. The three volcanoes in the region create a valley that has the perfect coffee-growing conditions, which coffee farmers gladly utilize. With an elevation of around 4,000–6,000 feet above sea level and somewhat predictable weather patterns, the valley of Guatemala’s Antigua creates one of the finest coffee beans in South America.

How is it grown and processed?

Farmers in the Antigua region will plant their coffee plants at high elevations along the mountainside, where the humidity doesn’t fluctuate often. Coffee grown at elevation is often called Strictly High Grown or Strictly Hard Bean, which allows coffee consumers to know that their coffee is the product of high elevation. With more than enough rain and sunlight to nourish the plants, Guatemala’s Antigua region produces some of the highest-quality coffee in the world.

Most coffee farmers from the volcanic region of Antigua use the wet processing method, mostly due to the rainy climate of Guatemala. The wet process uses water to flush out the coffee beans from the cherries. Some farmers will use the dry method of processing, which will taste different from wet-processed beans.

coffee berry plants
Image Credit: Gerson Cifuentes, Unsplash

What Does it Taste Like?

Guatemala Antigua coffee has a velvety mouthfeel and is usually medium or full in body, depending on the location within the volcanic valley. Many people that experience a cup of Guatemala Antigua coffee find that it has a zing to it from the bright, citrusy acidity. It has a chocolatey base with strong layers of caramel with a syrupy taste and feel. It has a floral and smokey aroma that is also present in the flavor, which can be pronounced depending on the brewing methods.

What Type of Bean is Guatemala Antigua Coffee Made From?

Most coffee beans from the Antigua valley are Arabica, which is the most popular type of coffee bean in the world. Most Arabica coffee that comes from the Antigua region is the Bourbon and Caturra varieties, which each have their own unique flavor profiles. Guatemala Antigua coffee, in general, has a unique taste, but the different types of Arabica beans have their own enhanced notes.

Arabica coffee beans are the most popular because of their smooth, delicate flavors compared to the rough and bitter Robusta beans. Arabica makes up over 70% of coffee beans produced worldwide, with different types and varieties to choose from. Arabica beans are especially popular in coffee shops in the United States, mostly due to the easy drinkability and naturally sweet taste.

coffee-roast beans pixabay
Image Credit: gedsarts, Pixabay

What Type of Roast Should I Get?

When it comes to premium or specialty coffee, getting the best roast is essential to the flavors and taste. For Guatemala Antigua coffee, a medium roast is usually the best choice to balance out all of the flavors and notes. If you do prefer a dark roast, some of the flavor profiles will change to a deeper type and lose some of its bright acidity.

When buying Guatemala Antigua coffee, it’s important to make sure that it is legitimate coffee from the Guatemalan region of Antigua. Unfortunately, there are a lot of coffee counterfeits around, so it’s crucial to find out if it’s real Antigua coffee. Look for SHG (Strictly High Grown) and SHB (Strictly Hard Bean), which means it’s been checked and passed as true elevation-grown Antigua coffee.

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Guatemala Antigua Coffee Brewing Tips:

Brewing Guatemala Antigua coffee is no different than brewing other types of coffee, but each brewing method can enhance or mute certain flavors:


Using the pour-over method to brew Guatemala Antigua coffee will help make the bright acidity stand out. The pour-over method is great for light and medium roasts since it naturally complements these roasts, which usually have medium or high levels of acidity. Dark roast Antigua coffee will be fine in a pour-over, but it may not be as pronounced as using a French Press.

Hario Buono kettle with V60

French Press (Best for Sweetness)

The French Press is best for a darker medium roast or a dark roast of Guatemala Antigua coffee, which will bring out the natural sweetness of the coffee. French Press coffee seems complicated, but it’s easy to make and tastes great. It also adds more body to it than pour-over, so this is a great brewing method to bring that out naturally. French Press isn’t the best for light roasts, so we recommend using the pour-over method for a lighter roast of Guatemala Antigua coffee.

Cold Brew (Best for Deep Flavors)

If your Guatemala Antigua is a medium-dark or a dark roast, brewing it using the cold brew method will cut the acidity and bring out the deep chocolate flavors. It will smooth out the acidity and bitterness of the coffee, though it takes over 8 to 16 hours to fully steep. Cold brewing specialty coffee may seem like a faux pas in the coffee world, but it can make a lot of coffee beans taste completely different.

dark roast
Image Credit: James Joel, Flickr

Drip-Brew (Mildest Flavors)

Drip-brew coffee is usually the most popular method simply due to the convenience of drip-coffee brewers, but it’s not the best method for specialty coffees with complex flavors. Drip coffee has the mildest flavors, especially if the coffee maker is a cheaper model. However, drip coffee can still taste great, even if the specific flavor notes aren’t as pronounced.

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Guatemala Antigua coffee is a premium coffee hailing from the Central American country of Guatemala, coming from the small region of Antigua. It has a complex, layered flavor profile that only comes from the Antigua region, though any coffee from Guatemala is usually high in quality and bright in flavor. If you’re new to premium coffee, Guatemala Antigua coffee will definitely exceed your expectations.


Featured Image: Oliver Colthart, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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