PRF Guatemala crowns three coffee champions and hosts first-ever PRF Seed initiative


On 7 & 8 March 2024, Producer & Roaster Forum returned to Guatemala after first taking place in the prominent coffee-producing country in 2019. The two-day forum – which is one of few industry events that places producers at the very forefront – was held at the Anacafé headquarters in Guatemala City.

In addition to PRF Voices, Cuppings, and Workshops, the event also hosted three coffee competitions, the second edition of the Global Coffee Awards, and the inaugural PRF Seed scholarship programme – which distributed a total of US $21,000 to four entrepreneurs and community leaders in the coffee industry.

Read on to find out more about what happened at PRF Guatemala, as well as where and when the next PRF event will take place.

Learn more about PRF here.

Trade exhibition at PRF Guatemala held at Anacafé headquarters.Trade exhibition at PRF Guatemala held at Anacafé headquarters.

The importance of hosting industry events in producing countries

Many coffee events take place in consuming countries, which understandably can make it more challenging for industry professionals from producing countries to attend.

Every PRF forum attracts thousands of international coffee professionals from across the supply chain to a prominent Latin American origin. On 7 & 8 March 2024, the event returned to Guatemala, which produces some of the most sought-after coffee varieties – including Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, and Maragogype. 

After a successful event first held in Guatemala in 2019 – which brought together more than 90 roasters and 450 producers – the forum once again took place at Anacafé’s headquarters in Guatemala City. International roasters from over 40 countries – including Spain, Taiwan, Chile, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Canada and more – attended the event.

Mark Zhou is the founder and CEO of MTPak Coffee – a coffee packaging company.

“Our goal as a brand aligns with the values of PRF: to facilitate and encourage important discussions in the coffee industry,” he says. “We aim to be at the forefront of these conversations, and events like PRF make sure industry professionals from producing countries are included front and centre.”

Additionally, the local economy received over US $1.5 million in tourist spending, and the two-day forum generated more than 250 jobs, with the help of volunteers from 20 different countries.

The next event – PRF Regenerate – is confirmed to take place on 17 & 18 October 2024 in Santander, Colombia. As the first PRF event of its kind, PRF Regenerate will have a specific focus on regenerative coffee farming practices, and will ensure that producers’ voices and perspectives are leading and shaping conversations and discussions.

Judge tastes cold brew at Cold Brew Coffee Championship.Judge tastes cold brew at Cold Brew Coffee Championship.

Competitions & awards at PRF Guatemala

At any industry event, competitions are some of the most exciting activities taking place – often drawing the biggest crowds. This year, PRF Guatemala hosted the third Global Coffee Roasting Contest, the fourth Cold Brew Coffee Championship, and the first-ever French Press Championship

Global Coffee Roasting Contest

The Global Coffee Roasting Contest features a collaborative and interactive judging format unlike many other coffee competitions. First launched at PRF El Salvador in March 2023, the championship crowns both a technical and a people’s choice winner. To vote for the latter, all finalists’ coffees are served at the Brew Bar for PRF visitors to decide on their favourite.

Moreover, the lower barriers to entry make competing more democratic – especially for coffee professionals who may not have the resources or means to participate in bigger competitions – while still testing their expertise, skills, and knowledge.

Previous winners have included Shaun Aupiais of Red Band Academy from South Africa, who won the first competition. At PRF Colombia in 2023, the title went to Alejandro Macias of Lusitania Coffee Co. from Colombia.

At PRF Guatemala, a total of 16 competitors roasted all coffees on day one, which were then tasted and judged on day two. The judges were 2023 UAE Barista Champion Mariam Erin, Guatemalan coffee shop Teco Coffee House, and Director of Coffee at ONA Coffee and coffee competitor Sam Corra.

This year’s technical winner was Carlos David Rivera of Charles Café in Honduras, who received a Nucleus Coffee Tools Link sample roaster. The People’s Choice winner was Charlie McIntyre of New Heights Coffee Roasters in the US, who also received a Nucleus Coffee Tools Paragon Espresso tool.

Cold Brew Coffee Championship

Now in its fourth year, the Cold Brew Coffee Championship helps to further push innovation and creativity in the ever-growing cold coffee market. And this is particularly apparent during the designer drink round. With the first edition held at PRF Colombia in 2022, every Cold Brew Coffee Championship sees competitors go head-to-head to create two cold brew-based beverages for a panel of judges.

Mauricio Romero from Colombia was the winner of the first competition, while Juan Aristizabal from Colombia and Julia Dziadevych from Ukraine won the second event held at PRF El Salvador. At PRF Colombia in 2023, the winner was Jean Pierre Acero Cechetti of Fecvelab from Venezuela.

Thanks to the format of the championship, coffee competitors and baristas of many different experience levels can take part – creating an accessible and inclusive event for attendees from across the supply chain.

The sensory judges at this year’s competition held in Guatemala were Julia Leach, Luz Stella Artajo, and Karla Maria Boza. Macarena Zuluaga was also the lead technical judge. 

The top three winners were Byron Meléndez of Luma Café in El Salvador, Luisa Santos of Coffeina Café in Colombia, and Julián Trejos of Cafeína Coffee Shop in Colombia – with all three receiving a portable Toddy Go Brewer.

French Press Championship

PRF Guatemala hosted the first-ever edition of the French Press Championship – another accessible and engaging coffee competition with lower barriers to entry.

All competitors had 15 minutes to prepare a minimum of 200ml of brewed coffee using a maximum 35g dose.

The judges included Abraham Castro from Ally Coffee (Costa Rica), Jonathan Moral from Café de Finca (Spain), Juan Pablo Ortiz from Coffee Relief (Ecuador), and Kristoffer Layton from Bodum, who blindly evaluated each coffee to decide on their favourite. 

On the count of three, all judges simultaneously pointed to their preferred coffee – taking a much more informal approach to assessing competitions. The winners of the first French Press Championship were Brandon Hernández of Icoffee Solutions Guatemala and Andy Zoneta of Paradigma Coffee Roasters in Guatemala – who both received Bodum brewing equipment.

Attracting the biggest crowd of all three championships at PRF Guatemala, the inaugural French Press Championship set a high precedent for the next edition of the competition.

Global Coffee Awards

In addition to three unique competitions, PRF Guatemala also hosted the second edition of the Global Coffee Awards. This is an awards programme which recognises and celebrates key innovators and leaders in the international coffee industry.

At this year’s ceremony, PRF provided awards to both brands and individuals who contribute to building a resilient and collaborative coffee community.

Winners at PRF Guatemala included:

  • Volunteer of the Year – Xilene Siquero of Copan Trade, Peru
  • Becado of the Year – Norlan Medina from Honduras
  • Speaker of the Year – Albert Scalla of StoneX, US
  • Booth of the YearOnyx Coffee in Guatemala
  • Partnership of the YearOne BIGG Island In Space (OBIIS), US for its Finca Terrerito project
PRF Seed ceremony at PRF Guatemala.PRF Seed ceremony at PRF Guatemala.

Announcing the first-ever PRF Seed recipients

One of the most exciting events which took place at PRF Guatemala was the inaugural PRF Seed scholarship programme. As part of PRF’s social commitment programme, PRF Seed recognises and honours leading volunteers and scholarship recipients so that they can take their entrepreneurial spirit and community-focused initiatives to the next level.

At the first-ever PRF Seed, all finalists received funding or prizes – totalling US $26,000. The funds were provided by Martin Mayorga, CEO of Mayorga Coffee, (US $11,000), Henry Wilson, CEO of Producer Roaster Forum (US $10,000), and Michelle Fish, co-founder of OBIIS (US $5,000).

Scholarship recipients included:

  • Isalia Martínez from Honduras, who received US $6,000
    • Isalia will use funds to establish a women-owned co-operative in her rural community
  • Nickolle Sánhez from Honduras, who received US $5,000
    • Nickolle will dedicate funds towards operating childcare facilities in some of Honduras’ coffee-growing regions
  • Fabián Zapata from Colombia, who received US $5,000
    • Fabián will use funds to provide barista training courses at a coffee shop in Quindío, Colombia, and will also invest in new equipment
  • Víctor Rojas from Colombia, who received US $5,000
    • Victor will dedicate funds towards expanding his coffee truck business, Café Chimila, across the Colombian-Caribbean coast
An audience attends a PRF Voices lecture.An audience attends a PRF Voices lecture.

PRF Voices, Cuppings & Workshops

In addition to a tradeshow, every PRF event invites leading industry figures and experts to give speeches and presentations. The PRF Voices speakers programme addresses some of the most pertinent and compelling topics and issues the coffee industry faces today. 

A total of 28 international speakers took part in PRF Voices this year, including 12 lectures in English and 16 lectures in Spanish:

  • Mayorga Coffee leading a Mayorga Becados Roundtable – a scholarship programme which sponsors around 500 smallholder farmers to attend the forum
  • Ana Lucrecia Glaesel of Anacafé, who spoke about how Guatemalan Coffees is helping to transform the future of the country’s coffee sector
  • Eduardo Choza of Mayorga Coffee, whose lecture explored Latino representation in the US coffee industry
  • Bob and Michelle Fish of OBIIS, who hosted a panel about re-evaluating roaster-producer relationships
  • José Arriola of Banco Industrial, who discussed how strong credit history can support producers’ business growth
  • Gabriel Restrepo of Ally Coffee, who spoke about how access to education is a key pillar of success for specialty coffee producers

PRF Workshops were also hosted at the two-day forum, led by Escuela de Café Anacafé and their expert team of instructors – including the guidance of Edvin Gonzalez, who has represented Guatemala at various coffee competitions. Topics covered were both technical knowledge and practical skills, with a focus on hands-on accessible education for producers.

PRF Coffee Cuppings were led by some of Latin America’s leading coffee producers and traders, too.

Sourcing Trip Experience

As part of every PRF event, the Sourcing Trip Experience is a separate package exclusively designed for roasters which includes a ticket to the two-day forum.

This year, 47 roasters and green coffee buyers took part in the PRF Guatemala STE, which included several farms in some of the country’s biggest coffee-growing regions:

Christian Safie of Unitrade Coffee was a STE host.

“Thanks to the STE, roasters and green coffee buyers saw the reality of coffee production, especially growing high-quality coffee,” he says. “This helped to establish a stronger connection between the producers and roasters.”

Espresso being extracted into two paper cups.Espresso being extracted into two paper cups.

The next PRF event – PRF Regenerate – will take place on 17 & 18 October 2024, with a unique focus on regenerative and sustainable coffee production. More details about the event will be announced in the coming weeks.

PRF would like to thank its sponsors:

You can stay up to date with all announcements for PRF here, or by subscribing to the newsletter here.

Photo credits: Producer & Roaster Forum

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