Got what it takes to be a coffee farmer?
You can find out what it’s really like on an Antigua Guatemala coffee tour!
As true coffee lovers, we have always wanted to see the process of going from the bean to a delicious brew. More than that, it was important for us to learn what it’s like for the coffee farmers who work so hard to make people happy all over the world.
Guatemala is the 8th largest coffee producer in the world producing a whopping 500,000,000 pounds of coffee a year. In other words, Guatemalans know what it takes to plant, grow, roast and brew coffee.
We were Antigua digital nomads for 2 months and we couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about the drink we can’t live without! When our friend, Robert, invited us – we quickly signed up!
Here’s a review of our Antigua Guatemala coffee tour, a brief explanation of the coffee process and things you should know before booking your tour.
Should You Go On A Coffee Tour In Antigua, Guatemala?
If you could do a coffee tour anywhere in the world, why not Guatemala?
Guatemalans are serious about their coffee. It’s evident all across Antigua because there’s cafes around every corner that serve decent coffee. We found it very easy to get a good cup of coffee (unlike our time as Mexico digital nomads).
As one of the biggest leaders in exporting coffee, it’s a no-brainer – YES you should definitely take the chance to go on a coffee tour in Antigua, Guatemala!
You will learn a whole lot about the process of harvesting, planting and roasting from a coffee farmer. You’ll see just how hard each person in the industry works to make your morning coffee the best it can be!
Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tour: Our Personal Experience
We didn’t really know what to expect because this was our first coffee tour experience. It’s safe to say that we absolutely enjoyed it and learned so much about the process and the people involved in this $20 billion industry!
Here’s our experience of the Antigua Guatemala coffee tours.
Before The Tour – Choosing A Company
Our friend, Robert, kindly invited us to join him on a coffee tour in Antigua Guatemala. He found the company that we went with and we simply booked it all online.
We went with a company called “De La Gente Coffee” which translates to “for the people” in Spanish. It’s a non-profit organization that partners with local communities to help them improve production and get paid fairly for their hard work.
You can buy coffee beans from De La Gente which brings the consumers and farmers directly together. This way, the farmers that De La Gente is associated with receives up to 250% more for their coffee.
The coffee industry can be pretty brutal and that’s why it’s important to choose a company that is fair trade for all parties involved. We were glad we went with De La Gente for this exact reason!
Getting To The Coffee Farm
Our coffee tour with De La Gente also included transportation from Antigua to the coffee farm which we found out was located in the town of San Miguel Escobar. We were instructed to head to Cafe Estudio at 8:45am and we waited for the van to show up.
Once the van arrived, we were off to the coffee farm. It’s only a 15 minute drive from Antigua!
Meeting Our Local Guide
We stepped off the van and we were met by our guide from De La Gente. This guide wasn’t the coffee farmer but rather he helped facilitate the tour and translate everything into English for us.
Our guide introduced us to the coffee farmer, Eduardo, that would show us his farm, beans and ultimately teach us his process of planting, harvesting and roasting the coffee beans. We were welcomed into the coffee farmer’s home and met with friendly smiles from his family members.
Walking Through The Coffee Fields
The Antigua Guatemala coffee tour was off to a great start!
We started walking from Eduardo’s house to his workplace (the coffee farm). It was a beautiful walk with the coffee fields surrounding us and the majestic Agua Volcan on the horizon.
The walk takes around 30 minutes with a couple of breaks in between to learn about certain steps in the coffee farming process and you get the opportunity to also ask any questions. It wasn’t as easy as we thought – you have to walk uphill at times which can be challenging in the sun. I’d say it’s an easy to moderate walk for all ages!
Once you reach Eduardo’s coffee farm, you’ll have a break to hear more from this talented coffee farmer and the coffee he was growing.
Learning The Process To Go From Bean To Brew
Coffee is a tricky thing to grow. It’s quite picky – from the kind of weather it needs, the altitude, the watering and the list goes on!
Here’s some things we learned about the coffee farming process (which we now have so much appreciation for).
1. Growing The Coffee Plants
Take a guess at how long it takes for the coffee plants to be ready for harvest…
- Is it 3 months?
- Is it 6 months?
- Is it 1 year?
Not even close! It takes 3-4 years before a coffee plant can be ready to harvest. This makes it very hard for coffee farmers to make their income and it’s why they need to plant other things in the meantime.
Eduardo also explained that he had to convince his wife to get into the coffee farming business. His wife was reluctant because it could take years and years before they saw any of the fruit. Before the plant can even be ready to harvest, it takes 4-7 years for the seedling to become mature enough to harvest. This required Eduardo’s family to have patience and trust that it will all work out in the end. Truly inspiring to hear!
2. Selecting The Right Beans
There are 2 different kinds of coffee beans grown:
A lot of people prefer Arabica because it is much tastier while Robusta has a more bitter flavor. On the coffee farm tour in the hills of Antigua, they were harvesting Arabica beans.
How to tell if it’s time to pick the coffee bean? Easy!
Just check if the bean is a cherry red color. They spend hours and days just picking the beans.
To help them get through the process quicker, they have these baskets that hang around your waist to make it easy to place all the beans you pick.
3. Sorting The Coffee Beans
Some trucks drive through the farm taking the freshly picked coffee chairs to the center for processing. When they sort the beans, they make sure the exterior cherry skin is removed. After removing the layers, you will start to see the coffee bean (as we know it). Coffee beans are actually a very light pale color which means it’s ready to export to other countries. The roasting process is normally done wherever the coffee bean has been exported for extra freshness.
Once that’s been separated, the coffee beans that stay will be used for cheaper coffee brands. They dry these white beans on the ground for the hot Guatemalan sun for a couple of days to weeks.
4. Roasting & Coffee Making Process
We made our way back to Eduardo’s home so his family could show us the roasting process.
He guided us out back where they had created their roasting room. As soon as you entered, the wonderful aroma of coffee beans satisfied your senses. They used a very old and traditional way to roast the coffee beans – in a pan on a bed of hot charcoal. It took around 5-10 minutes for the coffee beans to be ready for crushing.
Eduardo’s wife showed us the old way of turning the coffee beans into coffee grinds. It did not look like an easy task but was it worthwhile? Oh yes!
Finally – Tasting The Delicious Coffee
Matthew and I had been looking forward to the tasting during the whole tour! We didn’t drink any coffee beforehand and didn’t realize it wouldn’t be till 11am that we took our first sip of coffee. Make sure to drink some before you get in the van if you need it!
Eduardo’s family began serving the hot Guatemalan coffee and finally it was time to taste it. They served it Americano style which they believed was the best way to drink coffee. No milk, no flavoring – just pure coffee. As someone who loves iced vanilla lattes, I wasn’t sure I’d like the taste.
But as Matt and I took that first sip, we quickly looked at each other and were amazed! It was one of the best cups of coffee we have ever tasted. There were plenty of flavors and you could tell it was a premium roast.
Eduardo and his family used to have instant coffee before they got into the industry and now they can’t imagine having anything less than their premium roast beans.
We asked Eduardo, “how many cups of coffee do you drink a day?”.
He casually answered, “9-11 cups of coffee a day”. Yes – you read that right!
We loved hearing their stories of how they became coffee farmers. You can easily see the hard work, grit and perseverance it took to get where they are. I guess we resonated with their story because it reminded us of the entrepreneur journey we had been on.
Heading Back To Antigua Guatemala
As we finished our coffees, we actually received a gift of 2 bags of Guatemala coffee from Eduardo. It was a nice little touch at the end and you can always tip at the end of the tour and/or buy coffee bags like us.
Once we finished our cup of coffee and yummy Guatemalan pastries, our guide led us back to the van and off we went to Antigua!
Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tours – De La Gente Review
Not sure which company to go with? We highly recommend De La Gente because they partner directly with the coffee farmers and ensure there is fair trade.
For the coffee tours, they have 2 pick up times in the day:
- 8:45 am
- 1:45 pm
It only takes around 3-3.5 hours for the entire tour from start to finish. You need to make a reservation in advance on their website here. Fill out the form, choose a time, a type of tour and you’ll receive an email confirmation. If you have any questions, you can WhatsApp them.
We paid $30 USD for the tour and it was well worth it for us! We were really happy they had a guide to translate everything for us from Spanish to English otherwise we wouldn’t have known what was going on.
- Company: De La Gente
- Farm Location: San Miguel Escobar (10-15 mins from Antigua)
- Price: $35 USD
- Duration: 3 to 3.5+ Hours
- Other Tours Available: Pepian Cooking Class, Peanut Butter Workshop, and more.
- Contact Info: Website – DLG Coffee, WhatsApp – +502 4179 2970, Email – [email protected]
Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tour – Frequently Asked Questions
Where To Book An Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tour?
There are 2 companies that come highly recommended:
You can message them via WhatsApp or Email to book a tour. Make sure to do this at least a couple of days in advance.
How To Get To The Coffee Farm?
You can take public transportation yourself (ie. Uber) or you can ask if they have a van that can pick you up. With DLG, we met at Cafe Estudio. The shared van picked us up and dropped us off after the tour.
Will There Be A Coffee Tasting?
Yes, there will be but at the very end! Make sure you have some kind of breakfast or coffee beforehand (if you need it) because that first sip of coffee could be anywhere from 11-12pm midday.
How Long Is The Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tour?
It usually takes around 3-3.5 hours for the entire tour including the van ride and the coffee tasting at the end.
When Is The Best Time To Go On An Antigua Guatemala Coffee Tour?
The best time to go on an Antigua Guatemala coffee tour is from November to March which is the dry season. You’ll be able to see more beans ready for harvest at that time. The weather in Guatemala is pretty good throughout the year for tourists but generally, they don’t pick their harvest during the rainy season.
Is The Coffee Tour In English Or Spanish?
In our personal experience with De La Gente Coffee, it was both in Spanish and English. The coffee farmer, Eduardo, spoke in Spanish while the guide from DLG translated everything into English for us.
Make sure you ask before you book – we have had tours where it was entirely in Spanish and had no clue what was going on!