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(Editor’s Note – This original post from March 2012 has been updated to reflect current Guatemala vacation details.)

Did you know that it takes about 100 pounds of Guatemalan coffee cherries to produce 20 pounds of green Guatemala coffee beans?

Guatemalan vacationers learn facts like these while enjoying a local Guatemala coffee plantation tour as part of Caravan’s all inclusive, escorted Guatemala Tour. Most Guatemala coffee plantation owners welcome tourists onto their farms and even provide specialized tours of their Guatemala coffee growing and harvesting facilities.

Learn about the Guatemala coffee history and savor the taste of fresh, locally grown and roasted 100% Guatemalan coffee as you enjoy a morning coffee plantation tour while on Caravan’s all inclusive Guatemala vacation.

Shade Grown Guatemala Coffee Production

Guatemala is known around the world for producing some of the very best shade grown coffee beans” such as Guatemalan Antigua coffee beans. This is partly due to the rich volcanic soil in Guatemala that was deposited by over 30 volcanoes over the course of Guatemala’s history.

The volcanic soil in Guatemala is full of nutrients that formed below the earth’s surface for millions of years before being brought to surface level by volcanic explosions. These rich volcanic nutrients have very little deterioration with limited exposure to natural elements such as air and sun. Rich soil combined with its tropical location help provide Guatemala coffee plants with some of the world’s best growing conditions.

High Altitude Grown Guatemala Coffee Regions

Guatemala is also a great place for growing gourmet coffee beans because of its high altitudes. Most Guatemala coffee plantations exist along the highlands and mountain slopes. Because these Guatemalan mountain slopes face torrential rainfall, heavy winds and high UV rays, a rainforest covering provides the necessary shelter for the healthy coffee plants to flourish.

This type of natural cover is referred to as “Shade Grown” which means the rainforest provides shaded protection to the delicate coffee plants. This is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to grow high altitude grown Guatemalan coffee beans, as it also provides a habitat for birds, which help to reduce the need for harmful pesticides.

Even though shade grown Guatemalan coffee beans take longer to mature, the final quality and coffee taste are truly worth it. Guatemalan coffee beans are typically denser, larger and showcase more complex aromas and natural flavors. These wonderful attributes make high altitude grown Guatemalan coffee very much in demand, contributing to Guatemala’s status as the second best coffee producing country in the world in terms of the percentage of high-grade coffee beans produced.

Antigua Guatemala Coffee Plantation Tours

Caravan’s Guatemala coffee plantation tour is fully guided by a local coffee expert who gives an overview of Guatemala’s coffee industry and the history that surrounds this amazing beverage. This type of historical information about Guatemalan coffee is quite fascinating for coffee lovers and visitors alike.

Guests on Caravan Guatemala vacations also learn how the coffee plant grows from just a small seed into a full-grown coffee tree. For those who have only experienced coffee as the final roasted bean sold in their grocery store or local coffee house, witnessing the coffee plant in various growth stages is very fascinating indeed.

The coffee bean is actually the seed of a cherry-like fruit grown on the coffee tree. When the fruit ripens, it is handpicked and stripped of its pulp so that the coffee ‘bean’ can be extracted and dried. Local Guatemala coffee plantations wash and sun-dry the coffee beans for as long as needed to obtain the perfect moisture level. These “green” Guatemalan coffee beans are then sorted by size, color, density and moisture content with each category having a varying level of quality.

Antigua Guatemala Coffee Prices

Expert Guatemalan coffee guides explain how different prices can be charged for different grades of Guatemalan coffee beans before giving vacationers on Guatemala coffee plantation tours samples of their farm’s freshly brewed coffee. Many tourists like to support the local Guatemalan coffee producers and purchase single source Guatemalan coffee beans fresh off the farm to bring home to families and friends!

Caravan All Inclusive Guatemala Tours

A Guatemala coffee plantation tour is included as part of Caravan Tours’ economically priced, all inclusive Guatemala vacation. Other Guatemala tour activities include the Tikal Ruins, Antigua and Lake Atitlan.

Visit Caravan’s Guatemala Vacation reviews page to read what others have to say about this fully guided Guatemala tour, or call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to book your next Central American vacation in Guatemala.