Guatemala is a country rich in natural resources, including fertile land and mineral deposits. But it was the arrival of coffee that turned Guatemala’s fortunes around, making the country one of the leading producers in the world. Coffee trees were originally brought to Guatemala by Jesuit missionaries in the mid-1700s as ornamental plants. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, when the invention of synthetic dyes devastated Guatemala’s indigo and cochineal dye industries, that the country began growing coffee commercially on a sizeable scale.
By 1880, 90 percent of Guatemala’s exports were coffee. Guatemala is known for its high-quality specialty coffee. The country’s reputation for growing high quality beans comes from fresh, cool mountain air and fertile soil.