Guatemala Acatenango coffee, pronounced "ah-cah-teh-nahn-goh," comes from the Acatenango Valley region in Guatemala, Central America. This region is renowned for its high altitudes, ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 meters above sea level, and is home to the Fuego Volcano. An interesting fact about this region is that the volcanic ash from the active Fuego Volcano provides the coffee plants with mineral-rich soil, contributing to the unique flavors of Acatenango coffee.
Coffee has been grown in the Acatenango Valley since the mid-1800s, with its production playing a significant role in the region's economy. The introduction of coffee cultivation in Guatemala can be traced back to the late 1700s when Jesuit missionaries brought coffee plants to the country. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that the coffee industry began to flourish in the Acatenango Valley. The region's unique combination of high altitudes, rich volcanic soil, and a variety of microclimates makes it an ideal location for producing high-quality coffee beans.
Although specific farming and processing methods may vary among individual producers in the Acatenango Valley, most coffee in this region is grown under shade, using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Shade-grown coffee typically results in slower maturation of the coffee cherries, leading to a denser, more flavorful bean. The majority of coffee farms in the Acatenango Valley are small, family-owned operations, and many are members of local cooperatives that provide support and resources to help maintain sustainable farming practices.In terms of processing, the most common method used in Guatemala for processing coffee is the washed or wet process. This involves removing the outer skin and pulp of the coffee cherry, fermenting the beans to remove the remaining mucilage, and then washing and drying the beans. The wet process typically results in a clean and bright flavor profile in the final cup. However, some producers in the Acatenango Valley may also experiment with other processing methods, such as natural or honey processing, which can impart unique flavors to the coffee.
Coffees from the Acatenango Valley are known for their bright acidity, complex flavors, and full body. Common tasting notes include citrus, floral, and fruity flavors, as well as hints of chocolate and caramel. The high altitudes and rich volcanic soil of the region contribute to the development of these complex and nuanced flavors.
Some well-known farms and farmers in the Acatenango Valley include Finca La Soledad, owned by the Perez family, and Finca El Zapote, owned by the Falla Castillo family. Both of these farms have gained international recognition for their exceptional coffee, with Finca La Soledad receiving the Coffee of the Year award in the 2018 Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) competition.
Overall, Guatemala Acatenango coffee offers a unique and delightful taste experience, with its bright acidity and complex flavors. The region's rich history, as well as the dedication and passion of its coffee farmers, continue to contribute to the production of exceptional coffee that is enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts worldwide.