Culture: A sweet spot for coffee by Guat's Up's Rob Butterworth
I’ve always had a ‘sweet spot’ for Guatemalan coffee. I remember the first time something really clicked between my mind and my tastebuds, way before I became really educated in the specialty coffee market. The coffee was a particular variety called Maragogype, a big bean variety with tons of flavour. This variety is grown all over the world, but Guatemala is well known for producing some of the best Maragogypes in the world.
Since late 2013 we have been trading directly with a family in Guatemala to help source coffees from their farm and others around Guatemala. Nadine Rasch heads up the speciality export side of the family business, she is the fifth generation of this family to be involved with coffee. I asked Nadine to tell me a little about her family’s history in coffee and about her coffee business today.
“It was back in 1880 that our first ancestor made his way across the Atlantic from Germany to Guatemala. He was sent by the Hamburg Coffee Company to supervise the coffee supply and farms. As a continuation to the coffee story, his son Enrique purchased a coffee farm in Guatemala in 1938, after having successfully established Maquinaria Topke a hardware store which still operates as the second oldest company in Guatemala. The farm – Finca El Hato, has been in our family since then, with my grandfather and then my father managing it.
“It was seven years ago that I decided to enter the coffee industry – however, from a different point. With the specialty market about to take off, it was clear there was a demand for special micro-lots and single estate coffees. With the knowledge and background of our family, we now supply many roasters worldwide with coffees from Guatemala, both from our own farm and from neighbours and friends. We have created a supply chain that benefits everyone and leaves no one behind. With the help and support of independent specialty coffee roasters, we have been able to grow our reach and are able to represent more producers every year. This means more coffee growers are able to sell their coffees at the premiums they deserve for their high quality.
“We thank everyone on the consuming side for demanding better quality and more transparent and humane stories behind their daily cup of coffee.”
Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall, and Guat’s Up! café in Guildhall Street.
His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees.