Despite the introduction of coffee in the late 18th century, cultivation of the crop did not gain significant traction until the Guatemalan government encouraged European immigrants to establish plantations in the 1860s, distribution seed and young coffee plants. By the end of the 19th century Guatemala was exporting nearly 300 million pounds of coffee each year.
The majority of farmers are independent smallholders, loosely associated by proximity and cultural ties, or more formally through co-operative associations. A coffee growers union was formed in 1960 which has subsequently become the national coffee institute Anacafé (Asosiación Nacional del Café). Anacafé supports growers through the provision of financial support, research and marketing.
Guatemalan coffee production was severely impacted by an outbreak of coffee-leaf rust in 2012 which lasted for several years and reduced yields by as much as 25%. Farmers combated the disease using a combination of chemical and organic treatments, intense pruning, introduction of more resistant varieties, and the reduction of shade plants. World Coffee Research has been working closely with Anacafé on the development of initiatives targeted at protection of existing crops and the prevention of future outbreaks.
Guatemala's regional microclimates and varieties grown influence the distinct profiles of each region, which include the following:
Acatenango, Antigua, Atitlan, Chimaltenango, Cobán, Fraijanes, Huehuetenango, Nuevo Oriente
Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Typica, Maragogype, Pache
Washed and mechanically demucilaged
September – April