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Guatemala produces the second highest amount (after Colombia) of high grade coffee, and has the highest percentage of it’s whole crop classified as high quality. Guatemala hosts a plethora of land with ideal growing conditions for coffee, most is grown in areas between 16 to 32 degrees in temperature, and altitudes of 500-1500 metres above sea level. The coffee industry first developed in the 1850s and 60s, but was hindered by lack of knowledge, technology and labor. Initially many farmers were forced to rely on loans and borrow from their families to finance their estates, as production was increasingly owned and controlled by foreign companies with much more financial power to buy and provide investment for plantations. In the 1870’s Dictator Justo Rufino Barrios made coffee exports the backbone of his government, and despite extremely questionable practises, including expropriating land, coffee account for 90% of Guatemala’s exports within a decade. Coffee remains one of the largest exports, along with sugar, textiles, fresh vegetables and bananas.
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