I am not a coffee drinker, so I was just going along for the ride with my fellow Bella Guatemala Travel tour group as we left Antigua for Café Azoteca Coffee Estate, in business since 1883. Our coffee museum guide began our tour by explaining coffee production worldwide before telling us about the history and traditions here.
Azotea farm was purchased by doña Dominga Mont and her son-in-law, don Marcelo Orive. Together they began the cultivation of coffee. We passed exhibits and dioramas that illustrated the history of coffee harvesting in Guatemala and explained the growing and processing of the bean.
“The coffee plant is grown under a dense canopy of shade trees,” he explained. “At harvest time, our workers hand-pick only the ripe red beans. The beans are then wet milled, sun dried, and dry milled. Processed beans are hand-selected to assure quality and uniformity.”
Outside, we walked along a wide dirt road into an area where the beans were being grown. He showed us the red, ripe beans and explained that the farm uses an organic pest control system as well as composting for fertilizer. “We are very environmentally friendly.”
Azotea, which is a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm, is staffed by 65 workers during the high season and hosts 3,000 visitors a month.
We walked through a beautiful garden with colorful flowers of every description; many I had never seen before.
We then headed for the coffee shop. Many on the tour sampled the coffee and purchased bags of the fragrant beans. After we had time to look around the store, our Bella Guatemala Travel guides, Jose Antonio Gonzalez and Emilio Faillace, invited us to yet another museum — Casa K'ojom Mayan Music Museum.
Here we learned the history of Guatemalan musical instruments, with numerous instruments and dioramas adding to the understanding of this history. A short film was shown as well, bringing what we had learned to life with spectacular sound and color.
The gift shop was a wonderful collection of traditional souvenirs along with handcrafted items including instruments made by local artisans at very reasonable prices.
I can easily recommend the tour, museums, and gift shops to everyone visiting Antigua, whether you drink coffee or not!