Guatemala produces the highest percentage of classified, high quality coffee by volume in the world. The coffee association of Guatemala, Anacafe, has been instrumental in the improvement of picking, processing and quality standards, with excellent information and resources available for farmers and a traceability database for buyers to connect with producers. Guatemala has been leading the way in Central America, with an emphasis on producing high quality washed coffee, experimenting with fermentation and highlighting the terroir. Using a similar ‘altitude grading’ system employed in other Central American countries, coffee is classified as Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) – grown upwards of 1300 masl – Hard Bean (HB) and Semi Hard Bean coffees, all of which represent good quality, comparative to other nations.
Most of Guatemala’s coffee farms can be found on the coastal slopes in the central and southern regions of the country, where altitudes range from 700 – 2000 masl. Coffee is harvested between November and February, depending on the elevation. Over half of Guatemala’s 3.4 million bag yearly coffee production is then sold to the US market, generating approximately one third of its foreign exchange.