I am a HUGE lover of coffee and all things coffee. The smell of it…the ritual of your morning cup…I love it all. And so it is not easy for me to say this.
My home, Belize, is not a big coffee country.
Rum, yes. Fresh juices, coconut water…even beer? For sure. But it is not that easy to get a great cup of coffee here. Things are changing but most people are just fine with the dried stuff with sugar and a good pour of powdered creamer.
So…when I set out for Guatemala, I couldn’t WAIT to drink coffee. Guatemala’s highlands are famous worldwide for growing top-notch coffee and I was ready to drink as much of it as I possibly could.
In fact, I had to slow down about 5 days into my trip when I realized the reason for my horrible insomnia wasn’t the altitude or that I was used to warmer nights back in Belize, it was the fact that I was drinking 4-5 cups of espresso and lattes each afternoon.
So here are a few exceptional cups that I had in Antigua and my favorite plus a tour of one of the coffee fincas (farms) located just outside of town.
Another GIANT plus for coffee shops in Antigua is the great, easy Wi-Fi that is available everywhere. WiFi and coffee go together like peaches and cream.
Let’s actually start with how coffee is produced. Finca Filadelphia gives a great tour. For Guatemala, the price is high at $20US – especially when you can easily find a room for in Antigua for that much – but I thought the tour was well worth it.
The amount of work that goes into a bag of coffee is absolutely mind boggling.
Not everyone can grow good coffee. For the very best arabica beans – THIS STUFF IS FINICKY – you want altitude between 4000 and 5000 feet, rainfall between 40 and 60 inches (evenly distributed please) and mean temperatures in the high 60s.
Antigua Guatemala has the right stuff.
After a pick up in town, I was dropped off in front of Finca Filadephia.
There is a whole bunch going on all over the property. It’s a beautiful resort, a place for zip lining and paint balling and donkey riding but most of all, it is a working coffee finca. And that is what I was there to see.
We hopped into a truck – a family with their Spanish speaking guide and me…with my tour guide who spoke American 🙂
We first stopped at the nursery. The seeds are not just dropped in the ground. They are sprouted and after a few months (this is a SLOW growing plant), the plant is cut from the roots and then grafted onto a hardier breed. Roots that do better in the local soil.
Once they are planted in the fields, it takes a few years before they give any coffee berries. And once those berries come, workers hand pick only the really red ones and leave the others for the next daily picking.
The fruit with the coffee seeds inside are dried out in the sun and raked frequently.
There are layers to remove, numerous sortings to remove rocks, to separate the beans into grades, there is a taster to judge the batches and there is bagging for export to their biggest buyers – the UK, Japan and even Belize.
THIS IS WHERE SAN PEDRO’S CAYE COFFEE COMES FROM! How strange of a coincidence is that?
We haven’t even roasted yet. After the 2 hour tour, I sat down for an espresso. According to my guide it is the ONLY WAY to taste coffee.
Like with wine, he asked what I could taste. I knew “coffee” was the wrong answer so I dug deep.
Brown sugar? Raisins? It tasted delicious.
With a golden coffee bean and a few bags of coffee, they gave me a lift back to town.
There are cafes ALL over town and I got lots of recommendations. Here are a few of my favorites.
I LOVED these two.
Great spot to sit and a DELICIOUS latte. They also have a nice back garden.
Bella Vista Cafe. Walk in and it looks like a small coffee counter in a liquor store. But head upstairs. I am a giant fan of the lattes and the view from the roof top.
It also inspired me to bring back a coffee BAG to make pillows. Pillows that will double as loofahs.
Honorable mention: The Refuge Cafe.
And mediocre coffee but an AMAZING macadamia nut muffin. Cafe Condesa – there are quite a few around town. This one is right off the Central Park.
The gorgeous muffin. There is also a macadamia farm just outside of town that you can visit.
So there it is. Coffee, coffee and more coffee. It made me very happy (once I restricted myself to coffee ONLY before 1pm).
And two quick notes. Here’s where I stayed.
The lovely, quiet La Villa Serena. Airy spacious room, a great bathroom and a great courtyard & common area.
And the view wasn’t bad either.
AND…I had a super sensitive tooth in Antigua! I made an appointment with a fabulous English speaking dentist who…for under $100US pulled out an old OLD filling and sealed the whole tooth AND fit me for a pretty sweet new mouth guard to prevent grinding.
Here’s her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
One day you might be glad I overshared.