Guatemala is one of the top coffee producers in the world. The volcanic soil in the highlands of Antigua and Lake Atitlan are suitable for coffee farming. Coffee plantations are mainly small farms and privately owned estates. I visited one of the farms that was not open to the public.
While traveling in Guatemala, I didn’t seek out coffee shops recommended by travel guidebooks or on travel blogs. I wanted to experience coffee wherever coffee was available, including home-brewed coffee using coffee beans from the local grocery store.
Here is my coffee drinking journal, one per day in Guatemala.
Day 1 Antigua Guatemala– Dona Luisa Xicontencati
Our Airbnb host recommended Dona Luisa Xicontencati, a restaurant housed in a 1650 colonial home. We had a classic Guatemalan breakfast with black coffee. You can have pancakes or granola, but I chose black beans and eggs. Coffee is unlimited.
Day 2 Antigua Guatemala – Cafe Condesa
Cafe Condesa is a lovely place for coffee and dessert. Located in front of Parque Central, the main city square in Antigua Guatemala, Cafe Condesa is in a 16th-century colonial mansion. As you enter the store, the first section is the shop (selling coffee beans), a waiting area and a small reception place where the server will direct you to a table on the patio. There’s a bookstore selling English and Spanish language books by the patio.
Day 3 Antigua Guatemala – A local coffee shop on 4 Calle Oriente on the way to Cerro de la Cruz
On the third day while on our way to Cerro de la Cruz and Volcan Pacaya, the driver stopped at a coffee shop for a quick espresso and pastry. We stood by the counter, just like at a European coffee bar. That coffee was the best.
Day 4 Juayua El Salvador – Restaurante San Jose
On the fourth day, we left Antigua at 4 am for El Salvador for a 36-hour trip to El Salvador. It was well worth the effort to make it to El Salvador. This short excursion along La Ruta del las Flores was an excellent introduction to El Salvador, another coffee producing country in Central America.
We started the morning without a drop of coffee. Lunch and coffee were at Restaurante San Jose in Juayua, El Salvador. I didn’t take a photo of my coffee but here’s the lunch.
Day 5 Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador
Coffee in El Salvador was better than expected. La Ruta del las Flores, the scenic flower route of El Salvador is surrounded by coffee plantations. You’ll find specialty coffee trees like bourbon and geisha, according to a report by Reuter.
Our stay at the Hotel El Pueblito de Don Luis in Ataco included a hearty breakfast and unlimited black coffee.
Day 6 Panajachel Guatemala – Cafe La Parada
I heard about Crossroads Cafe in Panajachel through our tour guide and had plans to visit. But the American owner was in the US when we were there. So, on the sixth day of our trip to Guatemala, we walked from Hotel La Posada de Don Rodrigo to Cafe la Parada. We ordered black coffee, espresso con panna and two croissants.
Day 7 Santa Catarina Palopo apartment
A local lady came every morning to serve breakfast and brew coffee at our apartment by Lake Atitlan in Santa Catarina Palopo. It wasn’t the best coffee but the view of Lake Atitlan from our breakfast table on the balcony was more than enough to compensate for the bitter coffee brewed using the drip coffee machine.
Day 8 Santa Catarina Palopo apartment
I found a French press coffee maker in the kitchen and made my coffee on the second morning. I could spend days sitting on the balcony and having coffee and enjoying the views of Lake Atitlan, alongside volcanoes and villages by the lake. Day trips to coffee farms are available from Santa Catarina and Panajachel.
Day 9 Lake Atitlan
Another day of the same breakfast with views of the lake and volcanoes. This time I asked for a photo of Rosa, the lady who made our bed and prepared breakfast daily.
Day 10 Coffee in San Pedro
There are 11 towns and villages around Lake Atitlan – Panajachel or Pana, San Marcos, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, San Pedro, Santiago Atitlan, Tzununa, San Lucas, Santa Catarina Palopo and San Antonio Palopo. We took a private boat to San Marcos, San Juan, San Pedro and Santiago Atitlan. Spending the day in four of the villages allowed us to see the many coffee shops run by locals and foreigners.
I only had time for one in San Pedro.
Day 11 Sunrise coffee by Lake Atitlan
Before we left for the airport, I had my coffee during sunrise on the balcony on the top floor of the apartment. It was memorable – the view and the coffee.
If you’ve been to Guatemala, please let us know where the best place for coffee is.