One of the great discoveries I have made in this journey deeper into the world of coffee is my love for coffee from Guatemala. For whatever reason, Guatemalan coffee just wasn’t on my radar compared to its more famous neigbor to the south (I’m talking about you, Costa Rica).
However, what I found when I was on the search for which suppliers I wanted to work with and which roasts and origins I wanted to offer, I was consistently impressed with coffees from Guatemala pretty much across the board, no matter which supplier I was sampling. I has been really fun to find this out. After all, beyond just morning routine that coffee is an important (read, critical) part of, our love of coffee offers us a chance to explore the world and bring a little piece of it into our homes.
When we choose a coffee, we are choosing much more than just a flavor. We are choosing to support certain farmers and cooperatives in certain places that we can envision. These cooperatives are often in places where coffee is one of the main sources of income for families, schools, entire communities.
Personally, I already had a great love for Central America. My first trip down there was to Panama in 1998 and, unbeknownst to me, when I went to Boquette I was visiting one of the greatest coffee growing regions in the world. Following that trip would be many more trips to Costa Rica to surf and connect with the amazing culture down there.
Now my desire to connect more dots between surfing and coffee has led me to Guatemala. I can’t wait to add this destination to the list of surf and coffee tours.
I haven’t been, but it looks like Guatemala would make for a great surf and coffee trip. Unlike some countries where the trifecta of airports, coffee regions, and surf breaks are scattered and distant from each other, in Guatemala they line up nicely.
The most well known coffee growing region in Guatemala is the area around Antigua. Just an hour or so north and west from Guatemala city (already at almost 5,000 feet elevation), you head up into the mountains and back in time. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is becoming one of the most popular destinations in Latin America. Besides the amazing colonial architecture and the background dominated by the 12,000 ft Volcan de Aqua.
Coffee is grown all over the base of the volcano and it’s just hard to imagine a more amazing coffee tour than beginning and ending in this picturesque town and spending the day wandering the side of this dramatic landscape.
Looking at AirBnb, I found plenty of affordable homes to rent in the area that all look like the kinds of places where you could get lost writing that novel you’ve always been meaning to work on. There are also hotels to fit any budget.
Time to Surf
After spending some time in the mountains tasting coffee and basking in the colonial architecture, I might dawn on you that you could really use a surf. Luckily, the most well known surf spot in Guatemala, El Paredon, is just two or three more hours west from Antigua – and from looking at the map, it doesn’t even look like a nausea inducing roller coaster like some mountain to beach descents. If you are taking kids and a vertigo-prone wife like me, that might be important.
The featureless beach along Guatemala’s coast has let do an impression that there is a lack of serious surf there. Now, I can’t speak from experience (yet) my some research shows that the beach breaks in Guatemala are more than sufficient to provide a great surf trip, and the crowds will be considerably less than what you’re used to in Costa Rica.
Surfing is all about exploration, and I’m up for hitting a new spot anytime. The idea that you can fly into Guatemala city in just a few hours from many major US cities, not spend days on the road, and hit both warm Central American surf and some of the best coffee on the planet sounds like there’s potential for a really amazing surf and coffee trip here.
All of this being said, there are some reasons why Guatemala isn’t the family-friendly paradise that Costa Rica has become. When planning a trip there it is worth researching any political situations that might be flaring up, as well as the status of the always active Volcan de Fuego. This volcano is almost constantly active at a low level, whatever that means, so while you will get a nice view of ash and steam rising out of the earth, you also have to be a bit weary. The last major eruptions were in 2018. At the end of the day, when you pull up Antigua on your google map, you’ll see volcanos surrounding the city. It is amazing that the old colonial architecture exists at all, but I guess this tells you that the city has survived, so you probably will too.
Other than that, a trip to Guatemala requires the same caution as others to the region.
I look forward to adding this surf and coffee trip to the list. Maybe I’ll check it out without the family sometime to get a feel for the place, it’s people, and the distances. I wouldn’t exactly mind the chance for a solo adventure anyway.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some of the resources I stumbled across during my research: