For those who attended World of Coffee Berlin this past June, you’ll recall that some of the loudest voices cheering during the Cup Taster’s Championship were supporting Dulce Barrera of Guatemala. An accomplished woman in coffee and honorary member of IWCA Guatemala, we caught up with Dulce after the Berlin competition to hear more about who she is, her challenges & success, and the wisdom she’d like to share.
As shared with Ximena Lainfiesta, IWCA Chapter Relations Assistant
My name is Dulce Elena Barrera Giron, I am 40 years old and I was born in San Miguel las Dueñas, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. I am a coffee producer, with 16 years of experience in the coffee world. On January 4, 2002, I began my work in the management area of Finca Bella Vista. Eight years later a small laboratory opened that had a taster named Jorge de León. He was a man who carried out his tastings with the buyers and eventually with his owner, Luis Pedro Zelaya. Both tend to encourage all staff to learn the method of coffee tasting. At the beginning everyone came to the tastings but later I was the only person who stayed learning. In 2015 there were not enough staff for the coffee tastings so I decided to certify myself as Q Grader but I thought it was not the time and that I needed more practice and experience. A year later, Luis Pedro motivated me to participate in the first tasting competition in Guatemala where I had no idea what the competition would be like. Even so I participated and I was amazed since I got the seventh place. The same year I decided to become certified as a Catadora Q Grader and participated in the tasting competition in 2017, 2018 and 2019, being in the first three places of tasting. What have been your biggest challenges? My biggest challenges were my hiring to work in the administrative area since I would like to do catasions (cupping) so I decided to finish all my tasks for which I had been hired staying late, without seeing my daughter many times and arriving late at home when she was already asleep. Sometimes I think that if I had not sacrificed my family, I would never have learned to taste or I would not have so much experience.
I can honestly say that it was worth everything. Representing Guatemala in an international event can generate a lot of tension. What I can say to the young people is: "Take a risk, do not be afraid of failure". I tried it three times and on the last chance I was close to the goal and I want to keep trying again. You never have to give up until you have achieved your goals. Of course, nothing is easy but you just need discipline and a lot of desire to do things and support them with my knowledge so that they want to be different. We all know that every part of the coffee value chain is important. But it is important to strengthen the image of women more because we are involved from the store to the toasting, farm management and benefits. I know that all the positions are important and not all of us have the same opportunities to learn or study, therefore I believe that the image of women should be strengthened in all their habits in the coffee industry. A thousand medium-term plans are to have my own laboratory and participate in quality competitions and coffee auctions. In the long term, specialize to give courses since I like to teach others. I also want to travel a lot and learn more about coffee in other countries.
Learn more about Dulce and her experiences in an April 2019 piece from the Women in Coffee Project and Daily Coffee News. Link here.
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