This month’s interview is very special. I’ve been looking forward to writing this one for over a year now. A little background first.
I had the privilege of working for Josue’ Morales at Mayaland Coffee in it’s very beginning stages. It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come already and the changes that’s been made. It’ll be fun to continue following them as they grow.
DD- When did you start drinking coffee?
JM- My nanny when I was a baby under a couple years old was my great grandfather, there are stories of him giving me coffee on a spoon ever since I was a baby. I guess we can say that’s when I started drinking coffee, and even as a kid growing up in our family we were always fond of coffee.
DD – How and when did you decide to get into the coffee industry?
JM- November 2003.
I started in coffee when I was 19 years old, while researching on development programs as part of my university studies in economics and political sciences. Traveling back and forth the northern part of Huehuetenango in the time where there were no roads, I would make 20 plus hour drives from Huehuetenango back to Guatemala City bringing back one bag of pergamino coffee at a time, had it roasted and packaged at a local roasterie in order to sell what I could, keep some for sampling and at least a couple of bags for myself.
Years later I learned that the way I always did things was called Direct Trade, I only roasted the best coffees I could find which were regarded as Specialty Coffees. Cupping came as a necessity during the following years, since at first my only way of grading coffee was examining the beans at farm level in the palm of my hand prior to deciding if I wanted to buy. My first roaster I found in a garage and took about 4 months to restore it, it was an Otto Swadlo (Probat’s grandfather).
My view of coffee has always been intrinsically interwoven with enhancing the identity of my country, being a firm believer in the concept of terroir I advocate that even a farmer’s character can be found in the assessment of a coffee. Mayaland Coffee came as a result of this vision and experience, as well as being able to pair myself with the right set of partners who shared my desire to become the leading international roasters of Guatemalan Coffees while creating a global brand.
DD- How all are you involved in the industry?
JM- I’m currently the CEO of Mayaland Coffee and Director of the TG-LAB in Guatemala City. Mayaland Coffee roasting company out of Guatemala City that is dedicated to roasting and promoting certified and traceable coffees at a retail level around the world. The TG-LAB is an institution dedicated to creating traceability at farm level in Guatemala and through traceability programs to create specialty coffee. We promote these Guatemalan coffee farms to establish relationships between them and farmers world wide.
DD- Why did you decide to have a cafe’, coffee lab and be in retail?
JM- It became a necessity, to showcase our work in our own country and start bringing to Guatemala the trends I’ve seen in specialty coffee around the world. Plus, I wanted to serve amazing coffees our way and place in practice many years of research in roasting and in post processing at farm level.
The concept of The Room: Mayaland Coffee Pour Over Bar was created along with Nancy and Diana Sazo, two sisters who are industrial and graphic designers respectively. The space is composed of a wide front window covering the entire length of the shop.
The Room is made to be a creative space and workshop where design and art take on a big roll in the exploration of Guatemalan identity in new art expressions.
Keeping true to the idea of an artistic workshop, the coffee program designed by Mayaland Coffee is going to be centered around the use of pour over methods to prepare coffee. Artisanal methods are fit for an environment such as this, where one Single Estate coffee will be featured every six weeks.
The shifting of the menu will be marked every six weeks with the release of a new coffee. This event is centered around the invitation of the farmer (and additional guests) who will teach and share about the creation of a particular coffee.
The final piece of The Room is a hand painted mural of the Mayaland Coffee macaw birds that will be revealed on the opening night.
DD- What made you decide to roast coffee from Guatemala only?
JM- Legal restrictions to import green coffee from any other producing origin.
DD- Where can we find your coffee beans?
DD- What is the vision for your business?
JM- To challenge the historical structures of the coffee industry.