Coffee production in Guatemala

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Las Merceditas coffee plantation, San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta, Guatemala.

Coffee production in Guatemala began to develop in the 1850s. Coffee is an important element of Guatemala's economy.[1]

Guatemala was Central America's top producer of coffee for most of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, until being overtaken by Honduras in 2011.[1] Illegal exports to Honduras and Mexico are not reflected in official statistics.[2]


The most suitable temperature for the healthy growth and abundant production of coffee in Guatemala is that of 16 to 32 °C (60 to 90 °F). In lands situated at an altitude of 500–700 metres (1,600–2,300 ft) above sea level, young plants must be shaded.[3]

In zones averaging an altitude of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft), the plantations must be sheltered from the cold north winds. For the most part, the coffee plantations are situated at an altitude varying from 500–5,000 metres (1,600–16,400 ft) above sea level.[3]


Indigenous workers on a coffee plantation, 1875.

The coffee industry began to develop in Guatemala in the 1850s and 1860s, initially mixing its cultivation with cochineal. German immigrants played “a very important role” in the introduction of coffee to the country, according to Marta Elena Casaús Arzú.[citation needed] Small plantations flourished in Amatitlán and Antigua areas in the southwest.[4] Initial growth though was slow due to lack of knowledge and technology. Many planters had to rely on loans and borrow from their families to finance their coffee estates (fincas) with coffee production in Guatemala increasingly owned by foreign companies who possessed the financial power to buy plantations and provide investment.[4]

A scarcity of laborers was the main obstacle to a rapid increase of coffee production in Guatemala. In 1887, the production was over 22,000,000 kg (48,500,000 lb). In 1891, it was over 24,000,000 kg (52,000,000 lb). From 1879 to 1883, Guatemala exported 133,027,289 kg (293,274,971 lb) pounds of coffee. By 1902 the most important coffee plantations were found on the southern coast.[3]

Many acres of land were suitable for this cultivation, and the varieties that were produced in the temperate regions were superior. Coffee was grown around Guatemala City, Chimaltenango, and Verapaz. The majority of the plantations were located in the departments of Guatemala, Amatitlan, Sacatepequez, Solola, Retalhuleu, Quezaltenango, San Marcos, and Alta Verapaz.[3]


Coffee beans being sorted, Guatemala.

Anacafé (Asociación Nacional del Café) was established in 1960 as a national coffee association, representing all coffee producers in Guatemala.[5] It was initiated by the precursors to the International Coffee Organization, as a way of centralizing statistics of the nation's coffee production as it continued the work of La Oficina Central del Café, previously established and operated by the central government which in turn was established in 1928.

Anacafé has established a Guatemalan Coffees brand, and defined eight coffee regions under the slogan "A Rainbow of Choices". The regions are: Acatenango Valley, Antigua Coffee, Traditional Atitlan, Rainforest Coban, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehue, New Oriente, and Volcanic San Marcos.[6]

Anacafé has built the Analab coffee laboratories, established a funcafé program for children, and publishes El Cafetal, a coffee magazine. Anacafé represents Guatemala in the International Coffee Organization's meetings, and receives income only from service charges on exported coffee items.[7]

Labor issues[edit]

Research has shown that some of Guatemala's coffee producers used child labor in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Guerrero, Jean (July 29, 2011). "A Prince of the Coffee Bean Honduras Becomes Central America's Top Producer, Helping to Fuel Its Economy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  2. ^ Information Services on Latin America (Oakland, Calif.) (January 1986). ISLA. I.S.L.A. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Pan American Union (1902). Coffee: extensive information and statistics (Public domain ed.). Govt. Print. Off. pp. 21–. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b Clarence-Smith, W. G.; Topik, Steven (2003). The global coffee economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989. Cambridge University Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-521-81851-3. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  5. ^ and
  6. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Guatemala, 2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor". Archived from the original on 2016-04-13. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  9. ^ Verite. Research on Indicators of Forced Labor in the Supply Chain of Coffee in Guatemala. Amherst; 2012

External links[edit]