The Coffee Buyer’s Guide to Guatemala

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Notes for Green Buyers

CBG 4.05 Interview with Raúl Rodas — Part II

In the years since winning the World Barista Championship in 2012, Raúl Rodas has increasingly focused his attention on sourcing green coffee, helping to connect roasters in other countries with growers in Guatemala. We asked Raúl for his views as a green buyer on the current state of the Guatemalan market and what coffees to watch out for in the future.

While the US has a long history of importing Guatemalan coffee and is well served by importing companies, there are still opportunities to bring more Guatemalan coffee to other markets, he says, especially in Europe, Russia, Australia, and the Middle East.

‘The main focus for me is sourcing good coffee, not just microlots. There’s more coffee than microlots and specialty — that’s just the 5%,’ he says. ‘There are a lot of roasteries or importers that need 100 bags of good quality for a good price. That, for me, is the way I can help more of the producers.’

Experimentally processed coffee drying on raised beds. Unusual microlots like this command high prices, but Raúl Rodas argues that finding a market for ‘blenders’ and other high commercial lots can be of more benefit to producers.

The biggest challenges for Guatemalan producers this year have been related to climate and the COVID-19 pandemic, he says. ‘This year there was a lot of rain, and that affected some of the farms in Huehuetenango.’ Unseasonal rains cause problems with drying and processing and can even result in fruit drop if the rains arrive while the cherries are still on the trees. This year, some farms lost up to 25% of their crop this way, he says, and some cherries didn’t mature properly. Meanwhile, because of COVID-19, many farms struggled to recruit enough workers for the harvest.

‘Overall, the harvest was good, but a lot of people were expecting it to be better,’ he says. ‘In terms of taste, it’s great.  But a lot of coffee is more expensive than last year.’ The C price increased this year,