Guatemala

Antigua And The History Of Specialty Coffee

The area of Antigua in Guatemala is the birth place of specialty coffee.  It was an accident, perhaps an accident waiting to happen but the events were still an accident.  In the 1970’s Antigua was a really big home of alternative life style, as a home of the hippies.  But these hippies had been to Harvard University or at least read about psilocybin, magic mushrooms and LSD and avid supporters of  through the efforts of Timothy Leary and Richard Alperts, the sacked Harvard University Professors and psychologists known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. They helped start the Age of Acquarius. Leary used synthesized psilocybin and many hippies wanted the natural form.  Antigua was within the core of the Maya civilization that had a history of using magic mushrooms, so the hippies went to Antigua to find it. 

Ram Dass

When they arrived they found spectacular scenery, fresh divergent farm produce, welcoming people, and a very cheap way of living.  The indigenous locals then accepted the cultural use of stimulants and its existing shamanic culture continued to use mushrooms for spiritual connection, astral travel and identification with nature. The Hippies hit jackpot.  But it was only to be furthered when they found Antigua coffee.  It became their beverage of choice.

Lake Antigua

Effectively the Hippies were the first coffee adventurers.  Though they had just stumbled across Antigua coffee it was through their enthusiasm for its natural super taste that fundamentally made Antigua the first real coffee origin.  That is people started asking for it.  For when, unsurprisingly, all these hippies took their experiences back home they started asking for Guatemalan Antigua by name in the supermarkets, shops and coffee shops down the West Coast of the USA.  Nobody had any and nobody knew what it was. Consequently these people chose to become coffee roasters and the specialty coffee industry commenced.

Still, I must say so what there is a coffee story for every town that has a roaster.  My good and aspiring middle class family visited a village South of Valencia in Spain each year, for 3 weeks, commencing in the late 1960’s because my grandfather had retired there.  A postcard village port, that was used for the base of Errol Flynn pirate movies.  Lovely beaches, architecture, long eared donkeys, great cheap wine and food.  But for my self it was 3 weeks of hell.  Since I was bottom of the class, in all subjects at school, my father a staunch disciplinarian, decided the wise way to use the holidays was to catch up on Latin and Shakespeare.  So, my days were spent gazing out of a window rather than running around in the sun.  Still, in the evenings we went to the local tapas bars and there I drank espresso beverages.  I could not believe how good they were and it was the first taste that really captured my attention.  I think I decided then, I wanted to become a coffee roaster.  Because to become a superhero required super powers, which I noticed even then, were not well developed.  As a consequence I became an accountant till I was 38 because it took that long to save up for a coffee roaster with my friend Greg Gibson.  And that’s how Townsville got its first coffee roaster.

temple

A great Antigua coffee will always grab the attention of a coffee drinker.  And though it is used in espresso coffee, especially because it’s a hard bean that takes the heat, it really stands out as a filter coffee.   Its best are a full mellow, above medium bodied with notes of honey nut and notes of apricot.  Excellent for breakfast because you only need a croissant or a piece of fruit to feel as if you are satisfied .  

Since the arrival of the Spanish there has been a history of coffee in Guatemala.  But it is still a tough place, many are grounded in wretched poverty and there are the evolving social consequences of an occurring demographic population explosion.  Those coffee farming families that have survived the civil wars, compounding conflict, a volcanic explosion last year that killed 200 people and ceaseless social turmoil, over several generations have coffee in their veins and a commitment to stay put.  This has resulted in farming practices and knowledge that drive the regions spectacular coffees.  It’s an organized trade from the farmer, to co-operative or other processor, technical and plenty of professional technical knowledge is available.  The country’s national coffee association ANACAFE backs the country’s coffee industry across the world.  Guatemala’s 8 coffee regions are Acatenango Valley, Antigua Coffee, Traditional Atitlan, Rainforest Coban, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehue, New Oriente and Volcanic Sam Marcos.  They are graded with height as a factor, the higher the bean grows in these tropical areas the colder it is at night, as a consequence the bean grows during the day and shrinks at night with the cold, making the bean harder, slowing maturity and thereby increasing flavor.  It’s a great coffee origin.

Painting

Antigua Los Volcanes is considered the best coffee of the region of Sacatepequez in Guatemala. The area has a temperate climate and soil that is naturally of volcanic origin, making it very rich in minerals and elements that coffee needs to grow into a spectacular flavour profile.

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Antigua And The History Of Specialty Coffee

The area of Antigua in Guatemala is the birth place of specialty coffee.  It was an accident, perhaps an accident waiting to happen but the events were still an accident.  In the 1970’s Antigua was a really big home of alternative life style, as a home of the hippies.  But these hippies had been to Harvard University or at least read about psilocybin, magic mushrooms and LSD and avid supporters of  through the efforts of Timothy Leary and Richard Alperts, the sacked Harvard University Professors and psychologists known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. They helped start the Age of Acquarius. Leary used synthesized psilocybin and many hippies wanted the natural form.  Antigua was within the core of the Maya civilization that had a history of using magic mushrooms, so the hippies went to Antigua to find it. 

Ram Dass

When they arrived they found spectacular scenery, fresh divergent farm produce, welcoming people, and a very cheap way of living.  The indigenous locals then accepted the cultural use of stimulants and its existing shamanic culture continued to use mushrooms for spiritual connection, astral travel and identification with nature. The Hippies hit jackpot.  But it was only to be furthered when they found Antigua coffee.  It became their beverage of choice.

Lake Antigua

Effectively the Hippies were the first coffee adventurers.  Though they had just stumbled across Antigua coffee it was through their enthusiasm for its natural super taste that fundamentally made Antigua the first real coffee origin.  That is people started asking for it.  For when, unsurprisingly, all these hippies took their experiences back home they started asking for Guatemalan Antigua by name in the supermarkets, shops and coffee shops down the West Coast of the USA.  Nobody had any and nobody knew what it was. Consequently these people chose to become coffee roasters and the specialty coffee industry commenced.

Still, I must say so what there is a coffee story for every town that has a roaster.  My good and aspiring middle class family visited a village South of Valencia in Spain each year, for 3 weeks, commencing in the late 1960’s because my grandfather had retired there.  A postcard village port, that was used for the base of Errol Flynn pirate movies.  Lovely beaches, architecture, long eared donkeys, great cheap wine and food.  But for my self it was 3 weeks of hell.  Since I was bottom of the class, in all subjects at school, my father a staunch disciplinarian, decided the wise way to use the holidays was to catch up on Latin and Shakespeare.  So, my days were spent gazing out of a window rather than running around in the sun.  Still, in the evenings we went to the local tapas bars and there I drank espresso beverages.  I could not believe how good they were and it was the first taste that really captured my attention.  I think I decided then, I wanted to become a coffee roaster.  Because to become a superhero required super powers, which I noticed even then, were not well developed.  As a consequence I became an accountant till I was 38 because it took that long to save up for a coffee roaster with my friend Greg Gibson.  And that’s how Townsville got its first coffee roaster.

temple

A great Antigua coffee will always grab the attention of a coffee drinker.  And though it is used in espresso coffee, especially because it’s a hard bean that takes the heat, it really stands out as a filter coffee.   Its best are a full mellow, above medium bodied with notes of honey nut and notes of apricot.  Excellent for breakfast because you only need a croissant or a piece of fruit to feel as if you are satisfied .  

Since the arrival of the Spanish there has been a history of coffee in Guatemala.  But it is still a tough place, many are grounded in wretched poverty and there are the evolving social consequences of an occurring demographic population explosion.  Those coffee farming families that have survived the civil wars, compounding conflict, a volcanic explosion last year that killed 200 people and ceaseless social turmoil, over several generations have coffee in their veins and a commitment to stay put.  This has resulted in farming practices and knowledge that drive the regions spectacular coffees.  It’s an organized trade from the farmer, to co-operative or other processor, technical and plenty of professional technical knowledge is available.  The country’s national coffee association ANACAFE backs the country’s coffee industry across the world.  Guatemala’s 8 coffee regions are Acatenango Valley, Antigua Coffee, Traditional Atitlan, Rainforest Coban, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehue, New Oriente and Volcanic Sam Marcos.  They are graded with height as a factor, the higher the bean grows in these tropical areas the colder it is at night, as a consequence the bean grows during the day and shrinks at night with the cold, making the bean harder, slowing maturity and thereby increasing flavor.  It’s a great coffee origin.

Painting

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