Welcome aboard, everyone. We are so happy you chose to join us on this virtual coffee tour. If you're wondering what this is all about, check out our introduction here
. A little reminder, make sure you have a cup of your favorite CoffeeAM coffee and are sitting comfortably. The first stop on our excursion is Central America. We will begin with Guatemala and move south ending in Panama.
Coffee field in Costa Rica
At under 1,500 miles travel distance (from Atlanta, near CoffeeAM’s roastery), were we to fly to Guatemala, it would take somewhere between 3.5 and 5 hours. Through the magic of computers, it will only take a few seconds. So, if everyone is ready, without further ado, here we go!
Welcome to beautiful Guatemala, “The Land of Eternal Spring.” Once the seat of Mayan civilization, this beautiful country still holds a deep sense of history and culture. Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. The country is divided into three parts by two soaring mountain ranges. To the south, the Sierra Madre stretches from the Mexican border to El Salvador and boasts 37 volcanoes, including three active. The Cuchumatanes range to the north also begins at the Mexican border and sweeps across to the Caribbean Sea. The weather is hot and humid in the lower elevations and more temperate in the higher elevations. You may experience freezing temperatures in the mountains and a dry heat in the eastern plains.
Guatemala was conquered by Spain in the 16th
century. You can still see the Spanish influence in architecture and in the people. Spanish is the official language while there also exist 23 indigenous languages. Maya dressed in traditional clothing mingle with gun-toting cowboys and modern-day folk.
Coffee from Guatemala is grown in the mountainous regions. High humidity and ample rainfall, along with shaded crops, produce highly rated, full-bodied coffees. Robust and velvety rich, you will find notes of spice and chocolate that will delight your senses. CoffeeAM offers two coffees from Guatemala. Our Guatemala Antigua
is a single-origin coffee coming from high in the mountains. The Guatemala “Santiago Atitlan”
is an organic and fair-trade coffee coming from a plantation situated next to Lake Atitlan. Both of our Guatemalan coffees are fan favorites with best-seller status.
The next stop on our Central American tour is Honduras. Though it may have a reputation as a rough neighborhood, it is indeed a beautiful country. For the tourist, you will find Mayan ruins mixed with Colonial houses in Copan. There are national parks and white sandy beaches. The biodiversity in the mountains and the coasts create options for the outdoor adventurer. The weather in Honduras ranges from very hot and sunny in the north with rain throughout the year. In other parts of Honduras, you will find the rainy season in summer and the dry season in winter. Temperatures on the northern side of the country range from the mid-60s to the upper 80s while on the southern slopes go from mid-50s to mid-80s.
The people of Honduras primarily speak Spanish, though there are several indigenous. Honduras is bordered by Guatemala, El Salvador, the Pacific Ocean (Gulf de Fonseca), Nicaragua, and the Caribbean Sea. There are three regions with the most prominent being the interior highlands. To the west, the Honduran mountains mix with the Guatemalan mountain ranges.
Honduran coffees are known for light and bright flavors. CoffeeAM offers two coffees from Honduras in our portfolio. The first, our organic Finca Santa Maria
is grown on the outskirts of Pico Pijol. It boasts sweet aromas of peach, honey and orange with full-bodied flavors of caramel, berries, stone fruits, and a spicy clove finish. The Honduras “Silver Hills”
is an SHG or Strictly High-Grown coffee. It is grown at altitudes above 4,500 feet. This causes it to take longer to ripen, producing denser and more flavorful beans. Watch for aromas of nuts and honey with flavors showing tamarind, lemon zest, almonds, coconut, and chocolate. Wake up your coffee experience with one of these sparkling brews.
On to tropical El Salvador. With a slightly tarnished character similar to that of Honduras, El Salvador is still a lovely country. It is the smallest of the Central American countries and is bordered by Guatemala, Honduras, and the Pacific Ocean. There are two mountain ranges running parallel through the country. The Sierra Madre to the north and a line of more than twenty volcanoes to the south. The plateau between the two mountain ranges houses the heaviest population of the country. There is also a strip of plain along the Pacific Ocean ranging from 32 km and narrowing to one km with some volcano slopes extending directly to the ocean.
The weather in El Salvador is hot year-round with rainy and dry seasons much like Honduras. Temperatures range from the 60s to the 90s and rainfall occurs mostly in the afternoons, even in the rainy season, making it a very sunny locale. Most tourism revolves around the beach and nightlife in El Salvador. Surfing is a popular tourist attraction and the use of the US dollar makes El Salvador an attractive destination.
The coffees of El Salvador are grown on the slopes of the southern volcanoes. The flavor profile of coffees from this country depends largely on the areas from which they come. Ranging from full body with lots of flavor and acidity to medium body and mild, each region has its own profile. However, it is generally regarded that these coffees are well-balanced and boast a honey-like sweetness. Try our El Salvador Finca Piemonte Millenium
for a balanced and sweet coffee with hints of orange and cherry.
We’ve passed the halfway point of our Central America tour bringing us to Nicaragua. It is the largest of the countries in the Central American isthmus and is bordered by Honduras, Costa Rica, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Nicaragua is culturally diverse with Spanish as the main language. Like Guatemala, Nicaragua was colonized by the Spanish in the 16th
century. You can still see this colonial influence in the local architecture. With two types of beaches, outdoor activities are a magnet for those who enjoy diving (Caribbean Sea) or surfing (Pacific Ocean) along with fishing and canoeing.
In keeping with the rest of the Central American topography, there are three distinct geographical regions. A line of mountains runs along the north/northeast portion of Nicaragua which is where, on the western slopes, coffee is grown. The weather is temperate year-round with changes resulting from elevation rather than season. In the lowlands, temperatures range from the low 70s to the mid-80s with occasional spikes in the upper 90s. In the mountainous region, the temperature range sees upper 50s to mid-70s.
Coffee is one of the most important crops grown in Nicaragua. It is grown high in the mountains on the western slopes. CoffeeAM is proud to offer the organic and free-trade “Ceocafen”
. This coffee is rich and bright with aromas of apricot and tangerine. It finishes smooth with flavors of nuts and chocolate.
As we wind down our trip through Central America, we come to Costa Rica. It is a small but mighty country bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, the Caribbean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. Colonized by Spain like the rest of Central America, there was not a large indigenous population nor the natural commodities that other countries enjoyed. Therefore, you will not see the widespread visual colonial architecture from our earlier travels. Costa Rica is a haven for eco-tourism. The many national parks and protected areas are ripe for exploring.
The coastal plain of the Costa Rican geography is split by rugged mountains. These mountains separate the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The highest point in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripo. Soaring to an impressive 12,530 feet makes it the fifth highest peak in Central America. Due to the dizzying heights of these mountainous slopes, most coffees grown are considered Strictly Hard Bean (SBH). This means they are grown at altitudes above 3,900 feet. Coffees grown at these heights mature much slower and yield denser and more flavorful cherries. This, in turn, creates beans with rich flavor. Our CoffeeAM Costa Rica Reserve
is an exceptional choice to experience these unique and delicious coffees. Expect a wine-like brew with rich chocolaty caramel with high acidity and a sharp finish.
The final destination on our tour is beautiful Panama. With a unique juxtaposition of wilderness and urban modernity, Panama is a country full of adventure. It is a thin strip of land connecting Central America to South America. Panama shares borders with Costa Rica and Colombia while the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea sparkle on either side. A visit to the jungles of Panama provides views of tropical flora and fauna seen nowhere else. The people of Panama are a diverse mix of native, European, and African. Panamanian Spanish is spoken here though many also speak English. You will find some pockets of native language speakers throughout the country. The blended cultures produce interesting architecture, music, and art.
The climate in Panama is tropical with high temperatures accompanied by high humidity. Temperatures range from mid-70s to mid-80s and rarely exceed 90. The Caribbean side tends to experience warmer temperatures than the Pacific side. The mountains are much cooler and you may even see frost in some higher elevations. You will find the dual rainy/dry seasons we have experienced in the other destinations of this tour. Rainfall ranges from 51 inches to 118 inches per year depending on the region with more rain falling on the Caribbean side. Fortunately, Panama is outside the hurricane belt.
Panama’s geography is highlighted by a spine of mountains. To the west are the mountains stretching from Costa Rica and the Continental Divide whereas to the east the mountains run into the South American mountains of Colombia. The tallest of these mountains is Volcan Baru. Rising 11,401 feet, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from its apex. Near this soaring land mass is where our Panama Boquete
is cultivated. Due to the climate and the elevation, the cherries of this coffee mature slowly which makes them more flavorful. You will find this brew to be earthy and rustic with spicy overtones. Flavors of stone fruit with a mild cinnamon finish carry through to the end.
With that, we finish our adventures in sunny Central America. We hope you enjoyed this little virtual trip to learn more about where our CoffeeAM coffees come from. Visit our Central American coffee collection here
and bring home a unique taste of this beautiful part of the world. Next week our virtual travels take us to the Caribbean
. We hope to see you then!