The coffee industry began to develop in Guatemala in the 1850s and 1860s, initially mixing its cultivation with cochineal. Small plantations flourished in Amatitlán and Antigua areas in the southwest. 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 with coffee production in Guatemala increasingly owned by foreign companies who possessed the financial power to buy plantations and provide investment.
A scarcity of laborers was the main obstacle to a rapid increase of coffee production in Guatemala. In 1887, the production was over 22 million kg’s. From 1879 to 1883, Guatemala exported 133 million kg’s of coffee. By 1902 the most important coffee plantations were found on the southern coast.
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.
Size: 108,889 sq km
Capital City: Guatemala City
Population: 15.2 million
Average farm size: Varies, between 1 hectare and 50 hectares
Annual production: 4 million bags
Bags exported annually: 3.5 million bags
Annual domestic consumption: 300,000 to 400,000 bags
Growing regions and sizes: Acatenango, Antigua, Atitlan, Chimaltenango, Cobán, Fraijanes, Huehuetenango, Nuevo Oriente
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Typica, Maragogype, Pache
Processing Methods: Washed or mechanically mucilaged
Bag Size: 69 kg
Harvest Period: December to March
Shipment Period: February to July