Coffee in Central America: an Overview
It’s tempting to think of the entirety of Mexico as part of Central America – and geopolitically, perhaps, it is – but the truth about coffee growing is that it is mostly an equatorial proposition, which means the closer you are to the equator, the more likely it is that you’re standing on land that is capable of producing good-quality coffee. (Dutch coffee growing in Europe, of course, demonstrates that this is not a hard-and-fast rule and that exceptions can be made thanks to other factors like altitude, soil, etc.). For that reason, much of Northern Mexico is much like the southern United States climate-wise, and therefore not a perfectly suitable environment in which to grow coffee. Central American countries closer to South America – such as Honduras, Guatemala, etc. – tend to rely on coffee as an export much more than countries that don’t have the same suitable environmental factors.
In the previous section, Africa, it was easy to find a multitude of different types of coffees, from Arabica to Robusta, and to smaller varieties of each such as Bourbon coffee. Though Central America also enjoys a great degree of variability in its coffees, it is far and away a land of Arabica-based coffees. Because Arabica coffee is preferred by coffee drinkers around the world, there are a number of single origin coffee types from Central America that many coffee enthusiasts can get behind.
Central America’s main contributions to the world of coffee are in the world of Arabica, with specific varieties such as Caturra – a member of the Bourbon family – and Panama, which is of course grown in Panama (but also Costa Rica). Generally, the coffee plants in central America tend to be hearty in that they are resistant to disease, and many people in Central America are moving to the full open-to-the-sun method of growing that was not always the dominant way to grow coffee.