The Coffee Buyer’s Guide to Guatemala

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Notes for Green Buyers

CBG 4.06 Recap and Glossary


  • Guatemala has a nearly 100-year history of grading coffee by elevation, variety, and region.
  • The different grades do not specify quality attributes, even though elevation and quality are often linked.
  • More than 80% of coffee exported from Guatemala today is graded Strictly Hard Bean, indicating that it was grown above 4,500 feet (1,400 m) elevation.
  • Anacafé is responsible for certifying coffees for export, and it receives a sample of all exported lots for verification purposes.
  • More than 10% of the coffee produced in Guatemala is sold for domestic consumption rather than export.
  • Guatemala exited the International Coffee Agreement in 2020 and was the only major coffee-producing country to do so.
  • Prices for the 2020–2021 harvest are higher than in previous years, and the coffee was sold much more quickly than usual. As a result, green buyers are increasingly interested in acquiring coffee from less well-known regions of Guatemala.
  • Guatemalan coffee is generally considered to be forgiving to roast.  Highlighting the diverse flavours of coffee from different microclimates requires careful handling, however.
  • One study comparing coffees from different origins found that Guatemalan coffee roasted more quickly than coffee from other countries and that the roasting gases it gave off were less affected by the onset of first crack. It’s still unclear, however, how this may affect cup quality or roast profiling.


New Words

Farmgate price The price paid to the farmer for coffee; it excludes additional costs related to dry milling, transport, and exporting.

FOB price Free On Board. A contract in which the risks and obligations relating to the purchase pass to the buyer at the moment the coffee is loaded onto the ship for export. The FOB price includes costs such as milling and transport from the warehouse to the port.

High commercial A descriptor for coffees that are a quality level just below specialty. The term is not well defined but typically includes coffees scoring in the range of 80–84 points.