Coffee Culture of Antigua, Guatemala
Guatemala is one of the world’s leading gourmet coffee producers and Antigua is the coffee capital. To be fair, I’m no expert, just a traveler who enjoys drinking good coffee. Maybe you do too. So I decided to write a blog about the best coffee shops in Antigua after spending a lot of time there, talking to people, and drinking coffee everywhere I went.
Not only is Antigua a colorful colonial city full of history and the country’s main tourist attraction, but it’s also an excellent place to sample a wide variety of Guatemalan specialty coffees. Many of which are sourced locally!
9 Best Coffee Shops in Antigua, Guatemala
Walking through the cobblestone streets of Antigua, there is no shortage of third-wave coffee shops. Of course, it’s subjective deciding which shops are the best, but in my opinion and those of the baristas I met, these are the top choices. So pull up a chair and enjoy a cup or two at one of these essential coffee shops.
Café Sol has one of my favorite terraces in Antigua. It’s tiny, bedazzled in flowers, and it faces Volcán de Agua. If you go early on a clear day, you’ll be able to see it while you enjoy your morning cup. It’s a lovely place to have a strong Aeropress coffee and watch cats run across the Spanish barrel tile roof.
They serve some delicious breakfasts there too that’ll look great on the gram. The brioche sandwiches and loaded bagels are amazing. The bread comes from Chef Rodrigo Aguilar at the Nana restaurant. Café Sol is a great spot to start your day and in my opinion one of the best coffee shops in Antigua. Marlon, Roberto, and Christian will take good care of you and your brew.
Artista de Café
This hip and trendy coffee shop has two locations. The main shop is right in the center of Antigua, and the other is a bit further out that functions as a co-working space. Artista de Café is a bit more bougie than the others, but I think it has the best presentation overall.
It’s nice and bright inside with beautiful photography and black-line art adorning the walls. The vibey music makes you want to hang out all day long. This is my preferred coffee shop for getting work done.
On my most recent visit, I sampled a Gesha Malawi. It was a juicy medium-body coffee with notes of berries and honey. The coffees at Artista de Café change frequently and they source varieties from Antigua, the surrounding villages, and Huehuetenango.
You’ll notice a glass swirly tube science experiment behind the register. That’s their cold brew processor. Definitely recommend trying the cold brew if you visit on a warmer day. There’s a nice patio in the back for outdoor sipping and a quiet creative room downstairs if you need more privacy.
Del Otro Lado
Not far from the Cathedral, down 4 Avenida Sur, you’ll find Del Otro Lado. The name represents the idea that the grass is greener on the other side. Del otro lado mas verde, or is it? That is the question…
The first day I went I stayed for three hours, just hanging out with owner Paul Hamm and barista Juan Hernandez. Aside from the friendly service, the highlights of their shop include several varieties of Chica Bean coffee sourced solely from female farmers throughout Guatemala.
The Chica Bean honey in Chemex is a great choice if you like coffee on the sweeter side. The shop sources its own beans from the Rainforest Cobán region which are also quite nice.
Juan also makes his own artisanal chai. It contains only 3% sugar (which is lower than most) and it’s delectable with or without milk. In fact, I loved it cold on its own. It was the clove flavor for me! Qué rico
The shop has numerous local products including meats, cheeses, craft beers, and kombuchas. Many of which come from the small community of Tecpán. I’d be remiss without mentioning the food they create with these products. I ate the shrimp tacos on blue corn tortillas with ham and cheese and they were exceptional. Turns out Paul is also a great cook.
Located near Parque Central this specialty coffee shop is legit. It serves Finca Gascón coffee exclusively and depending on who you ask, it really doesn’t get much better than that. On my first couple of visits to Alegría Café, I asked for recommendations on pour-overs from my barista Alejandra.
She treated me to two of the best I had in Antigua. I had a Catuai lavado in an origami dripper, which was tart, acidic, and citrusy. Next, I tried the Caturra honey which was more earthy, sweet, and chocolatey.
This cafe is a friendly place to sit with a book or a friend and sip some coffee while nibbling on a pastry. I love their carrot cake. It’s not too sweet, but just right. Their dirty chai is outstanding too! It’s made with a splash of Gesha coffee, milk of your choice, lots and lots of cardamom, and topped with cinnamon. Perfection!
Una taza de café une al mundo (a cup of coffee unites the world) is the slogan of this shop near Mercado Central Antigua. Cindy Morales and her husband Hiroaki Oshino are on a mission to highlight small coffee producers in Guatemala and a large part of their business is exporting to Japan.
Arbol Coffee sells a lot of trendy Japanese drinkware for coffee geeks too. I bought a Rivers Micro Dripper there because it’s small, light, and perfect for traveling with. I also bought a bag of Pacamara coffee from Zacapa, Guatemala to go with it which I really enjoyed. Aside from their flavorful coffee, Arbol likely serves the best-iced matcha in Antigua. If you like Japanese food, you’ll also find tonkatsu, takoyaki, karaage, and gyoza, on their food menu. Get some!
El Gran Café
This small quick grab-and-go shop is the only organic-certified coffee shop in Antigua. It has just one bench inside. It’s not a place to hang out for long and they don’t do pour-overs, but that’s what sets them apart.
Several of the coffees at El Gran Café score above 90 points on the Cup of Excellence scale. This shop is hyper-local and owner Josué Morales sources half of the eighteen varieties in stock from the Antigua region itself. Everyone one of them has a story. The best part is you can have high-quality coffee here for 10Q.
On one memorable stop, I had a No. 8 Cup of Excellence winner from 2022. The coffee is from Finca Mama Cata. It’s a floral Gesha coffee from the Acatenango valley a short distance away from Antigua. Needless to say, it was superb.
I haven’t been to Italy, but I’ve also never had a better espresso than the ones being served at El Gran Café. Try one! This is the perfect place to buy coffee to bring home for yourself or to give as a gift too. Not exactly cheap, but well worth it if you want some of the best.
La Vid Coffee Roasters
La Vid Coffee roasts its own beans in-house. If you’re passing by while owner Alex Contreras is roasting you can smell the aromas from the street. I had my first-ever Xara Coffee Drip pour-over from this place.
Xara is a new Guatemalan artisanal method of coffee that is brewed in beautiful handmade pottery created by women from the communities of Lake Atitlán. At the time of writing, they were featuring two coffees, one from Santa María de Jesús near Antigua, and one from Huehuetenango. Both were available for purchase at reasonable prices to take home as well.
Siena Luz Coffee & Book Shop
Sip some java, grab lunch, or eat a piece of tiramisu for a good cause at Siena Luz. Some of the proceeds from this coffee shop go to El Patojismo a humanitarian organization that benefits a local school in nearby Jocotenango. Donations help to offer a modern curriculum, school lunches, and a doctor for 400 students. More info on the project can be found here. Walk to the back and relax with solid Wi-Fi at one of the colorfully tiled tables in the courtyard.
This shop is super chill. They don’t offer pour-overs, but I really loved their flat white. It’s creamy and strong. Raiz Café is locally owned and half their coffee is from the Antigua area and half is from Huehuetenango. The view looking out at the corner is also a great spot to people-watch from. Roll through and see for yourself!
What are the flavor profiles of the coffee in Antigua?
Antigua-grown coffee is known for having a sweeter flavor profile that isn’t bitter. Typically you’ll find hints of chocolate, caramel, and earthy tones in coffee grown at lower altitudes. Other varieties from higher altitudes have more acidic, juicy, rich floral, and citrus aromas.
Why is Antigua coffee popular?
Regardless of the notes and flavors you prefer, the coffees are well-balanced, bright, and delicious. Almost all of the beans grown in the area are premium-quality Arabica beans. Hence why Antigua coffee has become globally appreciated.
What is the best way to sample the coffee in Antigua?
Most of the recommendations in this post are about the third-wave coffee scene in Antigua. So one way to drink the coffee is by a third-wave method. If you have time to watch it being made and want to sit and enjoy it, you should drink pour-overs.
Coffee aficionados generally prefer this method, with lighter single-origin coffee because it accentuates the taste and complexity. Pour-overs allow the barista to have more control over the temperature of the water, the speed at which it seeps into the grounds, the amount of time it’s brewed, the strength, and how much is made. On the menus in Antigua, you’ll see the word Métodos. Métodos refer to the various pour-over drippers available like V60, Origami, Kalita, Chemex, etc.
Not gonna lie, Guatemala is where I officially became a coffee snob! Before arriving, I drank very little specialty coffee and wasn’t into the third-wave coffee scene. Now I can say that I’m addicted. Pour-overs are so clean and tasty, you can just enjoy it black, there’s no milk or sugar needed. Definitely try the espresso too!
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