As Pedro, our proprietor at Posado El Arco, told us; or as Dave Browne, espresso maker/seller to the stars; or Laura Lindsey, sommelier to many of us in Santa Barbara might say â€“ coffee is like wine. Weâ€™ve found this to be very true in Guatemala. Of course, it all starts with the beans, but then thereâ€™s the roast and the water and the brewing method, and often the time of day when itâ€™s a complementary cup at the end of some tour that also makes a difference.
La Azotea has the corner on the market in Antigua. Itâ€™s everywhere. Every shop and restaurant sells the colorful bags of beans or grounds, and presumably uses only La Azotea in their machines which range from heavy duty Italian espresso machines to giant percolators and â€œBunnâ€ type drips.
We took one of the many free bus rides to the La Azotea vinca (farm) and then paid more than the most expensive drink at Starbuckâ€™s per person for a tour of the music museum (well worth the price of a good latte), a video about regional dances of Guatemala (worth a decent cup of coffee), and another guided tour through the coffee museum and surrounding gardens (worth a couple of Kristaâ€™s lattes). We actually stayed on a beautiful coffee plantation a few years ago so the process of cultivation and processing wasnâ€™t terribly new to us, but it was very interesting to learn about some of the economics of coffee exportation. Fun fact: Viet Nam, in the last 6 years, has become the third largest producer of coffee in the world, behind only Brazil and Columbia.
Pedroâ€™s coffee in Chichicastenengo was by far the best and he said it was just something from the grocery store. The mocha Alan ordered at The Bagel Barn (swear to Dios, thatâ€™s the name) was very good. The free stuff at the jade museum was horrific. Thereâ€™s no way to predict who brews a good cuppa and itâ€™s not particularly inexpensive, so coffee has become, for us, another daily curiosity. How will we like it todayâ€¦?