Coffee Break (Guatemala)

Time for a coffee break. A short blog for a small coffee distributor in Washington says:

“Welcome to Aviv Coffee!

Aviv Coffee is your source for premium roasted Guatemalan Coffee in the Washington DC Metro Area. We pride ourselves with offering single origin, freshly roasted Guatemalan coffee. Currently we are offering Highland (Huehuetenango) Coffee that follows the guidelines of the SLOW FOOD movement.

We carefully cup every coffee and rate it for quality and flavor; providing you a to rich and satisfying coffee.

We obtain our coffee from Highlands of Guatemala from small producers, thus aiding in the sustainability of farming in the region.”

Guatemalan Coffee 1800’s – Eadweard Muybridge

“Coffee was introduced to Guatemala in the late 1700’s, in houses as ornamental plants. By the early 1800’s the coffee plants were taken outside the cities into different areas of the country. Originally coffee was planted out of amusement rather than for economic speculation. During that time coffee was seen more of a medicinal drink than a refreshment. It would take another 60 years to reach a commercial scale, once all other exports lost their economic value.  To foment coffee cultivation in the 1830’s the government passed a laws and incentives that helped coffee growers. In 1867 at the International Expo in Paris, Julio Rossignon and Juan Rodriguez presented coffee cultivated and processed in Guatemala and obtained awards for its taste. The liberal government which came to power in 1871 thorough a revolutionary fight, fomented the cultivation of coffee more than previous governments.

Liberal Leaders in Guatemala encourage Coffee Production

Eadweard Muybridge an English Photographer traveled to Guatemala in 1875, when coffee bean production was a bustling enterprise. He visited several farms in Guatemala and photographed every stage of coffee production.”

Aviv’s blogger continues:

I went to the Corcoran Gallery of Art this past Saturday and saw the pictures he took. Very interesting. The same pictures appear in the “History of Coffee in Guatemala” book that I have been reading.”

The book mentioned can be previewed on Google Books.

Jacket photo by Muybridge
The History of Coffee in Guatemala,
By Regina Wagner, Cristóbal von Rothkirch

“Muybridge left the largest and oldest photographic record of coffee production in Latin America, and captured an important period of transition from the conservative to the liberal eras. “

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Villegas Editores; 1 edition (November 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9588156017
ISBN-13: 978-9588156019
Product Description
After it emerged as a market commodity in the 18th century, coffee was easily adapted to cultivation in the highlands of Central America. Guatemala in particular has relied on coffee cultivation as a part of its economic identity: it has been a premier export crop for over 300 years.

The importance of coffee to the country lies in the large labor investment in each stage of production. This large-format illustrated book covers agricultural, social, and cultural aspects of coffee culture in Guatemala in old photographs, charts, tables and maps. Wagner’s work shows how Guatemala has met the economic complexity to which this product is subject, and why coffee remains the solid foundation crop of the country today.

About the Author
Regina Wagner was born in Guatemala, has a Ph.D. in history from Tulane University, New Orleans. She teaches at the Francisco Marroquín University and is current president of the Academy for Geography and History of Guatemala.

The book preview includes several good quality sepia reproductions of  Muybridge photographs.

Weeding and protecting young coffee plants from sun.
Santa María de Jesús, Guatemala (1875)
Sidney D. Markman Collection


For more on Muybridge in Central America, check The Sidney D. Markman Collection of Eadweard Muybridge Prints which lists many of his photographs taken in Guatemala and Panama.

The Sidney D. Markman Collection of Eadweard Muybridge Prints contains 142 black and white 9″ x 6″ copy prints of original Eadweard Muybridge photographs of colonial architecture, landscapes, coffee plantations, and daily life in Central America, taken in 1875. For more background on the Guatemalan photographs, see Eadweard Muybridge in Guatemala, 1875: The Photographer as Social Recorder (photographs by Eadweard J. Muybridge; text by E. Bradford Burns), University of California Press, 1986. (LAL F1464.B94)

Professor Ralph Lee Woodward of the History Department at Tulane remarked that the Muybridge photographs “give us an exceptionally valuable window on Guatemala in 1875. They are quite remarkable in what they tell us about Central America in that period.” (quoted from the dustjacket of Eadweard Muybridge in Guatemala, 1875 ).