Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coffee Plantation and Antigua in Guatemala

A Coffee Plantation and Antigua in Guatemala 

At some point on my cruise through Central America I had wanted to tour a coffee plantation. Guatemala's visit offered a combination all-day coffee plantation tour and city tour of Antigua.  Both were a 90 minute drive from port. 

I enjoy coffee. I'm not a crazy coffee-head - you won't likely ever find me in the long drive-through line at Starbucks or ordering "triple venti soy no foam" lattes ANYWHERE, but I like a good cuppa joe in the morning. But, I am always interested in how things are made and learning about how a little bean turns into a nice cup of coffee so on this warm day in the volcanic mountains high in Guatemala I found myself on a bus with 50 other passengers bound for coffee-land. 

The ride up to the plantation was 
really pretty. The roadside vistas were free from litter and at every turn the peaks of several large volcanoes grew closer and larger in size.

sugar cane fields

The plantation itself is called Filadelfia Coffee and Resort. They market their coffee under the name R. Dalton. Sadly, they use fungicides on their beans during growing seasons so there would be no bringing home of this coffee. Our household tries very hard to keep organic. 

Anyway, I learned all about how the beans were first discovered in Ethiopia and that Arabica beans are considered to be among the best, and how this plantation grafts their Arabica seedlings with  another inferior yet stronger root base plant so that the plants will flourish and not be killed by nematodes. Yikes. Coffee growing is complicated!

When it is time to harvest only the red beans are picked. Even then, when they are all dumped into a big basin filled with water (part of wet processing method), only the ones that sink to the bottom are kept for "premium" processing.

Then they are dried and go through a number of other selective processing. Some beans are sent out to coffee companies (like Starbucks) and they then do their own roasting but others are roasted here at the plantation and then packaged for sale, both locally and for export. 

It was fun to learn the process. We got to pick some red beans, squeeze the actual green coffee beans from within these and taste them at this early stage. I've got some photos I will upload later in an updated post. 

They hosted a nice lunch for us and we had a little time to relax, sip a cup of coffee and enjoy a delicious coffee mousse for dessert.

After the coffee tour we bid goodbye to our guide and made our way down the mountain a little to Antigua. It's a beautiful little city laid out as many others with lots of cobblestone streets in a large grid with a central plaza in the middle of the city. The city government building borders one side and the local
Cathedral another. Open market stalls selling crafts and street vendors hounded us mercilessly. I got really weary of saying "no, gracias" to these women and men offering their wares.

Pretty flowers at the Jade market

Antigua's government house

The Cathedral

Little girl taking a rest from selling her wares.

Everyone is involved in marketing and selling

We returned to the bus and relaxed in the cool air of the bus for our ride back to the ship. Along the way it began to thunder and lightning outside and the rain came down in droves! It almost lulled me to sleep. 

1 comment:

  1. Too bad they use stuff on their beans so you couldn't bring any of the coffee home with you, but it sounds as though it was an interesting day!