Guatemala has always been on my top five coffee grower countries to visit. I wasn’t disappointed. However, I was at times a bit scared!
When I visited in 2015/2016 there had been a rise in violent crime against women in the country. I was travelling mainly on my own so this meant I couldn’t see and do everything I wanted to do.
But by sticking to the main routes and ensuring I had guides with me, I managed to see a range of coffee plantations, large and small. I also met great growers and owners and sampled some delicious coffee.
My number one favourite was a grower situated just outside Antigua. A couple of cowboy-looking guys took me in a 4×4 – we left the white colonial buildings of the old town behind as we headed up a road that eventually turned into a dirt track.
After a while, the jeep could go no further and we walked the remainder. It took 40 minutes in extreme heat to reach the top of the plantation, where the owner’s house lay. It seemed the journey would never end, but at last, the plantation came into view. I must admit there were a couple of moments where I thought I was crazy doing this, but we carried on.
The land here is split amongst several growers – it’s a co-operative plantation model. This is a great way for small businesses to make money from a small piece of land. That’s why I saw heaps of houses with beans drying outside their homes, or in their back yards.
I feel so lucky to have people open up their doors and show me their coffee business, however big or small. Because we all had one thing in common, our great love of coffee.