Tell me about coffee

So next Saturday I will be leaving for a two week Guatemalan adventure. Of course I will be returning with gifts for friends/family. I know that Guate is supposed to produce good quality coffee, and I thought that bringing back some primo java would be appreciated by my coffee swilling associates.

The problem, however, is that I am not a coffee drinker, although I do like the smell it (but I digress). I understand that the quality of the beans can vary quite dramatically. So, my question for all the coffeephiles out there is this:

How does one distinguish quality beans from lower grade ones?

Is it easy to do, especially for one who does not like coffee?

Are there any other hints or tricks to buying good coffee beans?

Thanks, and I look forward to being educated by your responses.

I’m a big coffee drinker, not the gourmet must build a fire of aged chestnut with which to roast my $75 per ounce bean type, just a happy addict who likes coffee. I haven’t a clue how to pick a good bean, smell counts but it all smells good to me so who knows?

So, if it were me, I’d go for any fair trade stuff in the middle price area. The highest priced stuff probably doesn’t taste any better to most folks, it’s either for true connoisseurs or for the folks who have to buy the most expensive everything. The cheapest stuff is probably cheap for a reason, so I’m all about trying for in-between.

Hopefully you can get good advice from some locals about where they get their stuff, and avoid the touristy traps that push souvenier crap. If you narrow it down to a couple three types, go for the one with the sexiest exotic name for bonus cool points!