Don’t Miss Guatemala City’s Vibrant Specialty-Coffee Scene

With expert coffee growers, barista champs, and Cup of Excellence winners running the coffee bars, you’re sure to find a special brew here.

BY JORDAN BUCHANAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Capital cities in Central America often get passed over by backpackers and tourists; governments often direct tourism investment into the more “natural” wonders of countries’ territories. But in Guatemala City, coffee professionals have developed a specialty-coffee scene that is a must for any visitor. The city has a reputation for friendly interactions with locals and welcoming cafés, along with serving some incredible locally produced coffee. Guatemala City’s specialty cafés are led by some of the most knowledgeable people in the coffee trade, from the farm to the front counter.

Miguel Donis, who has won the Guatemala Barista Championship twice, brings his expertise to the brews at Teco Coffee House. Photo courtesy of Teco.

Teco Coffee House

Teco’s Miguel Donis has been running this store since March 2019. In 2021, Salomé Puentas joined him in the project, complementing his knowledge and experience with her own wealth of skills from working in the Colombian coffee trade. The married couple has converted what started out as a quaint consumer space into an epicenter of Guatemalan specialty coffee, with a roaster and laboratory attached to the café. Miguel is also the two-time winner of the Guatemalan Barista Championship, passing that refined knowledge onto his staff with each drink he prepares behind the bar. This café is a hub for everything you need to know about specialty coffee in the country, and here you can explore that world through your senses. If Guatemala City is unmissable for its café scene, then this café is the unmissable institution within that scene.

Twin brothers Pablo (left) and Pedro Barrios opened Manos Coffee together in 2019. Photo courtesy of Manos Coffee.

Manos Coffee

Twin brothers (hence the name, short for Hermanos) Pedro and Pablo Barrios opened this café in July 2019. They both have detailed insight into the Guatemalan coffee trade and are meticulous in their coffee work. They have traveled as coffee judges around Latin America, and achieved the coveted Cup of Excellence in 2024. That quality of judgment helps them in offering high-quality coffee in this coffee nook in the city. Owing to its intimacy, you can have a deep conversation with the owners and baristas while connecting with other customers over the marvels of Guatemala’s coffee sphere.

The family that founded Family Bonds has worked in coffee for over a century. Photo courtesy of Family Bonds.

Family Bonds

Cayalá is a suburb of the Guatemalan capital, and there you will find Family Bonds, the coffee-shop line of a family that has been in the coffee industry for more than a century. The family has its own farm, and you can find that coffee here alongside other origins. William Perez Hidalgo and Letty Anzueto, third-generation coffee farmers, started this project in May 2017 in association with Korean coffee giant Coffee Libre, and they remain close allies. This café is unique for its location, but also for its blending of fresh air and open space with your favorite brewing method.

Rojo Cerezo was one of the first specialty shops opened in Guatemala City. Photo by Kaizoku Estudio.

Rojo Cerezo

Located in the lively Zona 4, this coffee shop is small in size but big on passion, and was one of the first specialty shops opened in the area. Since 2013, owner Rogelio Dávila has enthusiastically dedicated himself to this roastery-café, serving Guatemalan coffees in the hopes that locals would embrace them. And it has been a success. The coffee at Rojo Cerezo boasts that complex connection of the personal, emotional, and sensational of the Guatemalan specialty coffee world. 

“I’ve always liked the idea of coffee,“ Rogelio told NPR in a 2017 interview. “I believe that the concept of coffee is not just trying a cup of coffee, but the whole atmosphere.“

Since 2021, the Cabrera family has put over 130 years of coffee experience into their café, Entre Volcanes. Photo courtesy of Entre Volcanes.

Entre Volcanes

The Cabrera family has worked in the coffee industry for more than 130 years as producers, exporters, and now in coffee shops. Adrián is the sixth generation of his family working in coffee and has taken the lead role in this coffee shop since its opening in November 2021. He has always seen coffee farms as a place of fun to spend time with family. Entre Volcanes emits that sensation: a green place of warmth for fun and quality time with people who matter to us. It feels like being in a large greenhouse, with plants everywhere and a lot of open space that complements your coffee-tasting experience.

Paradigma

The coffee at this roastery and café is commensurate with the reputation and accolades of its owner: Raúl Rodas, a four-time Guatemalan Barista Champion, and winner of the 2012 World Barista Championship. Since then, he has been working in all lines of the coffee world, and Paradigma Café was his café project that helped inspire the rise of specialty-coffee shops in the country.

Unfortunately, the original location closed in 2020 during the pandemic. However, Raúl has continued to roast and sell coffee as Paradigma Roasters. In 2022, he relaunched the coffee-shop project with a new concept of café kiosks in commercial centers. You can now savor the moment of visiting the eminent specialty-coffee figure’s shop once again. And another “once again“: Raúl is back competing, and won the Brewers Cup in Guatemala in 2024. His passion and knowledge for coffee never drops in quality, and you can get a taste of it at Paradigma.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordan Buchanan (he/they) is completing their Ph.D. in Latin American history at UC San Diego. Their research focuses on the growth of specialty-café cultures in producer nations in Latin America. Jordan grew up in Scotland and currently lives between there and Mexico when not doing doctoral work in San Diego. After purchasing their first AeroPress, Jordan has been an avid specialty-coffee enthusiast, which has added a new perspective to their lust for travel and exploration. 

Cover of June + July 2024 issue of Barista Magazine featuring Mikael Jasin of Indonesia.

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