To find out what baristas and roasters need to know about Guatemalan coffee, we spoke to 2012 World Barista Champion Raúl Rodas. As a Guatemalan-born champion barista, coffee roaster, and green coffee sourcer, Raúl is uniquely qualified to help us get the most out of Guatemalan coffee.
Picture: 2012 World Barista Champion Raúl Rodas.
Raúl’s first involvement with coffee was working in a small café chain to help fund his studies at university. He got the competition bug after placing fourth in an internal barista competition at the chain — just high enough for the company to enter him into Guatemala’s national barista championship. He was immediately hooked, and he went on to win the national championship four times, placing second in the world championships in 2010 and taking the top prize in 2012.
‘Competition became my thing, the part that was making me fall in love with coffee,’ Raúl says. ‘I started to get to know a bit more about green coffee and processing because of the competition.’ A 2011 trip to Ethiopia was a turning point, he says. ‘I saw how they make naturals and make these amazing flavours, and it blew my mind — I just wanted to do more naturals and honeys, and in Guatemala there was nothing like that.’
From being a barista, Raúl went on to found the microroastery Paradigma Coffee, currently based at the dry mill that prepares lots for the Cup of Excellence. Trade barriers mean it’s not possible for him to import green coffee from other countries, so he has always worked exclusively with Guatemalan coffees. This limitation pushed him to explore the full variety of flavours that the country’s coffee can offer, he says. ‘There are so many flavours in Guatemala that it’s really hard to say you’ve tasted everything.’
‘When I started making an espresso blend, I had to use coffee from two different regions in Guatemala to make it balanced,’ Raúl says.