It is said that the Cobán coffee growing region of Guatemala has two seasons: rainy and rainier. In fact, the name Cobán comes from the Maya Keckchi word meaning “place of clouds. It is literally a rainforest: cloudy, cool, with only a few sunlight hours per day. From May to December, heavy rains prevail. The other months, the region is engulfed in “chipi –chipi,” a fine, mist frequently drifting down from dense clouds.
While the high altitudes, limestone and clay soil, and microclimate courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean create a growing environment that coffee trees love, drying the harvested beans in a rainforest environment is a constant challenge. If the beans retain too much moisture, they tend to sour or mold. Farmers in this region must go to great lengths to produce the fragrant, intense coffees that are drawing attention on cupping tables and at Cup of Excellence contests.