Geography

Central America

Guatemala

In Guatemala, coffee production started around 1770. Since then, it has significantly affected the economy and ranks second among agricultural exports.

The mountainous terrain and location between the oceans and volcanic soil are optimal for spreading coffee plants. The altitude of 1400 m above sea level and 99% of 'shadow' cultivation is a perfect recipe for the production of exclusive coffee. In addition, Guatemala has more than 300 unique microclimates: each region and even individual farms produce coffee with different characteristics, expressed in a wide variety of flavors in the cup.

Beans produced:

2020 - 3.7 million bags (60 kg each)

World market share in kg (Arabica and Robusta):

2.2%

Coffee beans export revenue:

$653 million

Harvest:

from December to April

Huehuetenango

Our favorite and, at the same time, the most inaccessible and mountainous region. Coffee is characterized by intense acidity, full-body, wine, and grape notes. Of the three non-volcanic areas, Huehuetenango is the highest and driest region. Thanks to dry and hot winds coming from the Mexican plain of Tehuantepec, the part is protected from frost, allowing it to grow Highland Uwe at an altitude of up to 2000 meters.

Antigua

The most famous and popular region, coffee is mainly with high sweetness, rich aroma, and elegant character. Fertile volcanic soil, low humidity, plenty of sunlight, and cool nights make this region ideal for growing the most unusual varieties of coffee in Guatemala. The valley around the city of Antigua (from which the region got its name) is surrounded by three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. From time to time, Fuego adds fresh dust and mineral-rich ash to the soil of Antigua. Volcanic pumice retains moisture in the soil, which helps compensate for low rainfall.

Acatenango

Coffee from this region is characterized by pronounced acidity, a balanced body, clean and stable aftertaste. Just a few steps from the volcanoes of Fuego and Akatenango, west of Antigua, is the Akatenango Valley, where coffee grows in the dense shade on steep slopes up to 2,000 meters. Frequent eruptions near the Fuego volcano support coarse sandy soils full of minerals. The shadow of many trees regulates temperature and creates a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.

San Marcos

Coffee from this region has a delicate floral aroma and balanced acidity. San Marcos is the warmest of the eight coffee-growing areas and has the highest rainfall, reaching 5,000 mm. The rainy season starts earlier than in other regions, so it causes early flowering. As in all remote areas of Guatemala, most of the coffee in San Marcos grows on farms owning washing stations. Due to the unpredictability of precipitation during the harvest season, most of the coffee is dried in mechanical dryers - guardiolas.

Atitlan

Coffee in this region has a balanced body and pronounced citrus acidity. Of Guatemala's five volcanic coffee regions, Atitlan's soils are the richest organically. 90% of coffee from Atitlan is grown on volcanic slopes. Daily winds (Xocomil) mix the cold waters of the lake and affect the microclimate. The highly developed traditions of crafts of this culture are reflected in the skillful cultivation and processing of coffee by even the smallest producers.

Coban

The coffee of this region is characterized by notes of ripe fruit and a smooth body. The annual rainfall in Coban is about 3,500 mm, raining from nine to ten months a year. Constant rain (mostly drizzle/fog – chipi chipi) leads to uneven flowering: 8-9 flowers per year. Due to the extended flowering season, the coffee ripens unevenly and requires up to 10 harvesting approaches (with breaks of up to 14 days), which guarantees the harvest of the ripest cherries. The cool and rainy climate makes it challenging to dry coffee in Coban. This is why traditional mechanical drying is widespread. Coban is home to some of Guatemala's most innovative and dedicated coffee producers. They have made great strides in drying experiments under challenging conditions and produce the best coffee possible in the region.

Fraijanes

This is the least studied region, from which coffee differs in freshness and rich acidity, rounded body. This region is characterized by volcanic pumice soil, high altitudes, generous rainfall, variable humidity, and an active volcano. The most active of Guatemala's three active volcanoes, Pacaya occasionally covers the region with a light layer of ash, which serves as mineral fertilizer. The dry season is characterized by plenty of sunlight, and despite the clouds, fog, and abundant morning dew, all the beans of the region are dried only in direct sunlight.

Orient

The coffee of this region has a well-balanced, rich chocolate taste. Since the 1950s, coffee has been grown almost exclusively by small producers. Today, nearly every farm in the mountains has turned into a coffee shop, and once one of Guatemala's poorest isolated areas, it thrives and grows. The rainy and cloudy city of Oriente is located on the territory of a former volcanic ridge. Its soil consists of metamorphic rock: it is minerally balanced and very different from the ground in regions with volcanic activity.

Honduras

Until recently, almost all Honduran coffee production was focused on exchange trade, and the country was seen primarily as an exporter of cheap beans. Despite the appropriate growing conditions, fertile soils, sufficient altitude (large farms located at an altitude of more than 1000 m), and excellent microclimate, the lack of infrastructure for processing and quality control of coffee has led to a bad reputation among demanding buyers. In 1998, the situation worsened: Hurricane Mitch destroyed 80% of the country's agriculture, so farmers preferred to smuggle their coffee to Guatemala at a higher price despite the government's best efforts.

The state tax on coffee exports introduced in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the massive investment in training coffee farmers and coffee experts are paying off. Now Honduras occupies a worthy place in the line of coffee and coffee shops worldwide and presents unique lots of 90+ at the Cup of Excellence.

Today, more than 100,000 families across Honduras produce coffee. 95% are small farmers, 70% are farming on an area of ​​fewer than 2 hectares (which is about 30% of the total production in the country).

Beans produced:

2020 - 6.1 million bags (60 kg each)

World market share in kg (Arabica and Robusta):

3.6%

Coffee beans export revenue:

$1112 million

Harvest:

from November to March

Copan

Copan is located in western Honduras, on the border with Guatemala, and includes several subregions. It is situated 1000-1500 meters above sea level and has one of the broadest humidity and temperature ranges.

Here, you can find aromatic coffee with solid tropical fruits, chocolate, caramel, and citrus notes. The body of the drink is usually dense and creamy, and the aftertaste is long and balanced. At the last Cup of Excellence competition, Copan grain impressed the judges with its complexity, juicy and sweet taste, and fruity aromas: they noticed notes of candy, peach, mango, flowers, jasmine, apricot, lime, honey, black currant, orange, coffee, raspberries, white grapes, red grapes, and mint.

Opalaca

The region stretches east of Copan and is located at 1100-1600 meters above sea level. Coffee in this region usually has slightly high acidity and an intense aroma (tropical fruits, grapes, and berries).

Montecillo

The region is located on the southern border of Honduras and El Salvador. Farmers in Montecillo grow a unique coffee with sweet fruity aromas of orange and peach combined with solid acidity and have a soft body. Montecillo is the highest mountain region for coffee production in Honduras (average altitude 1200-1600 meters above sea level). Montecillo's coffee reflects the highest quality and taste of the drink on the world market.

Café Marcala - a local brand - was the first registered coffee brand in Honduras and Central America, guaranteeing a bright aroma and taste in your cup.

Comayagua

In a cup of Comayagua, one can expect a sweet citrus flavor combined with a bright level of lactic acidity, which gives it a creamy consistency.

Agalta

The region is located deep in the mainland: in a more tropical climate at 1100-1400 meters above sea level. Agalta coffee offers a diverse collection of tropical fruit flavors with caramel and chocolate flavors, making it the perfect bean for a classic espresso.

Honduran coffee boasts the high quality of manos hondureñas, which allows the country to be a leader in the industry through the work of hundreds of thousands of Honduran farmers who grow coffee and work hard every day to produce the highest quality coffee.

El Paraiso

One of the regions with the lowest coffee production, reaching a height of only 1100-1400 meters, El Paraiso is located on the border with Nicaragua. The profile of this region reflects lemon aromas with a sweet fruity smell, soft body, acidity, and persistent aftertaste.

El Salvador

Varieties of coffee grown in El Salvador: bourbon, pacas, catimor, sarhimor. 60% of the coffee grown in El Salvador is bourbon. It is characterized by a clean, bright, and sweet profile with strong citrus notes. Pacamara is characterized by a rounder body with tropical fruits, juicy taste, bright citrus notes.

Pacas has a round body, light acidity, floral and spicy notes.
Farmers in El Salvador process coffee using almost any method - washed, honey and natural.

El Salvador has 6 mountain coffee-growing ranges.

Beans produced:

2020 - 0.6 million bags (60 kg each)

World market share in kg (Arabica and Robusta):

0.4%

Coffee beans export revenue:

$108 million

Harvest:

from November to March

Alotepec, Metapan

Cordilleras, including Santa Ana and Chalatenango, are located in the northwest of the country, with a total area of ​​about 2870 hectares, which is about 1.3% of the country's total area. Lands in this area reach an altitude of 1000 to 2000 meters above sea level. The most common varieties grown in this area are Pacas, Bourbon, Pakamara, Catimors, Catuai, Katurra, and Cuscatleco.

This region has reached a high level of production. It is known for its quality product and mainly consists of small producers who usually process their coffee to the parchment stage.

El Bálsamo, Quezaltepeque

Cordilleras, including La Libertad, San Salvador, and some municipalities of Sonsonate, are located in the center of the south and cover ​​25% of the country's total area. Lands in this area reach an altitude of 500 to 1960 meters above sea level. This region can be divided into two subregions: 'Cordillera del Bálsamo' and ‘Volcano San Salvador-Quezaltepeque’.

Coffee beans in this region have a balanced, creamy body, and their taste is more like vanilla, have a bright acidity, which provides a velvety character.

Apaneca, Ilamatepec

Cordilleras, including the departments of Santa Ana, Sonsonate, and Ahuachapan, are located to the country's west, where about 50% of coffee producers and cultivated areas are concentrated. Lands in this area reach an altitude of 1000 to 2365 meters above sea level.

Chichontepec

Volcano San Vicente or Chichontepec is located in the Guadalupe and Tepetitan in the department of San Vicente, and the other part - in the municipalities of Zacatecoluca and San Juan Nonualco in the department of La Paz. The cultivated areas make up about 5% of the total area of ​​the country. Lands in this area reach an altitude of 500 to 1000 meters above sea level.

The coffee from this region is unique with its rich aroma of fleur-de-lis and subtle notes of chocolate.

Tecapa, Chinameca

Cordilleras, including Usulutan and San Miguel, are located in the country's east, with approximately 12% of sown area. This mountain range is a significant tourist attraction and is also known as La Esmeralda de America. There is the 'Lagoon of Joy,' surrounded by geysers and hot springs in the crater. Lands in this area reach an altitude of 500 to 1000 meters above sea level.

There are about 3,000 small producers in this region.

Cacahuatique

Cordilleras, including San Miguel and Morasan, are located in the country's northeastern part, with 4% of the cultivated area. Lands in this area reach a height of 500 to 1663 meters above sea level.

Coffee from this region has a powerful, aromatic, and light body, medium acidity, a good balance between citric and malic acids, and a long residual taste with a sweet aftertaste.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua's tropical climate with high rainfall and mountainous areas is ideal for coffee plantations. Due to this, the beans have high quality and a rich bouquet.

Nicaraguan coffee is characterized by a medium body, obvious sourness, balanced sweet profile, nut tones in the bouquet, notes of vanilla, caramel, chocolate, citrus.

Altitude: 1100 - 1600 meters above sea level.

Nicaraguan varieties of Arabica: Bourbon, Caturra, Pacamara, Maragogype, Maracaturra, Cutaui, Catimor.

Processing methods: dry, wet, honey (semi-dry, only the skin is removed from the fresh berry, and the flesh dries in the sun).

Beans produced:

2020 / 2.7 million bags (60 kg each)

World market share in kg (Arabica and Robusta):

1.6%

Coffee beans export revenue:

$496 million

Harvest:

November - March

Matagalpa & Jinotega

Matagalpa and Jinotega are the two main coffee regions of Nicaragua. The farms are spread among world-famous reserves, such as Selva Negra, are located at an altitude of 800 to 1250 meters above sea level and produce more than 60% of all Nicaraguan coffee beans. Most of these beans can be considered organic, but they do not have international bio- and organic certificates due to their value, which is too high for farmers in the poorest country in the region. In fact, farmers produce organic coffee because they are forced to save on chemical fertilizers, which are becoming more expensive every day.

Nueva Segovia

The highlands of Nueva Segovia are located at the Honduras border and traditionally win most of the prizes in the Cup of Excellence. Favorable climate with high rainfall forms a bright enzyme profile in a cup with pronounced tartaric acidity.

In the 1980s, specialty coffee production began in Nicaragua's neighboring countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. However, Nicaragua fell behind due to political and economic unrest during the long period of the revolution (1974 - 1990). In 1985, the United States imposed an embargo on imports from Nicaragua – another blow to the industry. Hurricane Mitch destroyed almost all infrastructure, and the global coffee crisis of 1999-2003 contributed to the deterioration in quality of the beans in all coffee-producing countries.

Finally, it is behind us, and Nicaragua occupies a worthy place among the producing countries in Central America and can offer unique taste profiles to buyers from around the world.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica's history is inextricably linked to coffee production: on the eve of the country's independence from Spain (1821), local authorities distributed free coffee seeds as a means of promoting coffee production to support the economy. Coffee was the only export commodity until 1890. Costa Rican manufacturers were among the first to "respond" to the global movement towards cup quality; although back in the 1980s, the coffee beans quality of Costa Rica was mainly broken down into primitive SHB and HB.

Today, Costa Rica is a leader in the microlot segment, which allows you to track specific batches to a unique farm or area. This is an ideal place to promote the idea of ​​growing specialty coffee: many different microclimates provide excellent taste characteristics, determined by coffee varieties, latitude, altitude, soil type, rainfall and temperature fluctuations. Most farmers in Costa Rica do not have the equipment to process their own coffee, and during the day they pick cherries and deliver them to a private or cooperative processing station in their region in the afternoon.

Beans produced:

2020 / 7.3 million bags (60 kg each)

World market share in kg (Arabica and Robusta):

4.3%

Coffee beans export revenue:

$329 million

Harvest:

November - March

West Valley

Altitude: from 1200 to 1700 meters above sea level.

The main varieties grown on an area of ​​about 22,000 hectares are Caturra and Catuai; in some cases, the remains of Villa Sarchi and Villalobos can be found here.

Thanks to the microclimate and the ability to harvest ripe cherries in the drier summer months, West Valley produces some of the best lots in Costa Rica.

Central Valley

Altitude: from 1000 to 1200 meters above sea level.

Influenced by the watershed of the Pacific Ocean, the privileged Central Valley is characterized by well-defined wet and dry seasons and temperate altitudes. The soil of this region has a low tropical acidity due to the enrichment by volcanic ash.

The coffee plantations here are some of the oldest in Costa Rica but are also rapidly disappearing due to pressure from the population and industrial development. Some varieties of bourbon are still grown in the Central Valley.

Brunca

Altitude: from 800 to 1200 meters above sea level.

Some high-quality specialty is produced on the highest farms in the region, but most products are of medium standard quality and are grown by large cooperatives.

The other 5% of coffee grown in Costa Rica is grown in Guanacaste, Oros and Turrialba at lower altitudes of about 600-900 meters above sea level.

Fest Coffee Mission is a green coffee importer which can help to get the best coffee beans directly from farms. More information about green coffee for roasting you can find on our website.