June 19, 2019

Dulce Barrera - tasting coffee from origin to World Championships!

What do you taste when you drink coffee? Some of us can identify specific flavours like ‘citrus fruits’, ‘berries’ or ‘nuts’. Some can identify what those fruits, berries and nuts are. And then there are special few who can do all of the above and distinguish where the coffees are grown while we’re still pondering over ‘peach’ or ‘pear’ notes. You can find this talented lot at the World Cup Tasters Championship finals.


Last week, our new Head of Quality, Edita, and Pascale, our Sustainable Sourcing Manager, visited World of Coffee, which this year took place in Berlin. The three-day event opens up the floor to everybody in the coffee industry from producers to roasters to coffee technology experts and more.


A particular highlight of Edita and Pascale’s visit to World of Coffee was cheering on Dulce Barrera, who came fourth in World Cup Tasters Championship final. This competition takes the best of the best coffee tasters from around the world and puts them to the test in distinguishing taste differences of speciality coffee with speed, skill and accuracy.


This is particularly exciting as Dulce was the only female finalist as well as the only finalist from a producer country, Guatemala. Dulce is head of quality control at Bella Vista – the mill where quality control of the coffees from La Candelaria takes place, a coffee we use in our Revelation blend. La Candelaria is also the farm that runs the summer school programme, for children of employees. Dulce, also heads up quality control on our delicious microlots - Hunapu and Xejuyu. You know the coffee is in extremely good hands when the head of quality control is competing at international tasting competitions!


Dulce has been working at Bella Vista for 17 years, since 2002, where she started out in administration. When Luis Pedro Zelaya started producing microlots in 2010 and the administrative staff were all invited to cup the lots - this is where Dulce’s interest in tasting began. Hard work, extra hours and a keen interest in quality drove Dulce from simple cupping sessions to having the ability to grade speciality coffee

Fast forward to 2019, Dulce has now competed in four tasting competitions including receiving 1st place in the Guatemala National Cup Tasters in 2017 and, of course, internationally in Berlin this year. Dulce wants to use her tasting skills to help increase the quality of coffee in Guatemala and gain attention from consumers worldwide. We know first-hand just how delicious the coffee that Dulce deals with is and to have even more coffee producers in Guatemala working to her standard would be a blessing for us all!

We want to share a huge congratulations from the whole Union team to Dulce for making it to the World Cup Tasters Championship finals and coming in fourth place. It is incredible to know we’re working with someone with such exceptional talent in coffee!

“"First I would like to thank Bella Vista for the opportunity given to me to grow as a person and as a professional.  And letting me achieve the satisfaction of making it to the top four cuppers of the world. This is inspiring for me and I hope it inspires other people to work hard and conquer their most crazy dreams. I am thankful and humbled for this opportunity.   The greatest of my secrets that lead me to this dream is that I really love what I do. I am very passionate about coffee and quality.  This is really all you need and lots of hours of practice and discipline. And about future dreams... Well I see myself with a self- owned Quality Control Institute/Lab with the aim of teaching and helping others (specially coffee small producers) to learn about quality, how it tastes, and to be able for them to cup their own effort in their amazing coffees. This will be a great tool for them to know how to improve their agronomical practices and how to produce more and make it taste amazing."

Dulce Barrera (Translated by Melanie Herrera)

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