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Eduardo Choza holding up the #1 Roaster Award

Mayorga Coffee’s Eduardo Choza Wins US Roaster Championship 2024: Exclusive Interview


"My name might be on the award, but it has everybody’s name on there with me, from the staff at Mayorga to the producers whose coffee we love, roast, and work with, to all the cultura Latina that cheers for us and roots us on. The cultura that has Mayorga’s back and wants to see Latinos do well. Con orgullo Latino… we did it."

Last weekend at the Specialty Coffee Association Expo (SCA) 2024 in Chicago, our Director of Coffee, Eduardo Choza, triumphed in the prestigious US Coffee Roasters Championship, securing the title as the nation’s top roaster. A certified Q grader, Eduardo excelled in a field of the country’s top 16 roasters, building on his regional success. 

Known for his deep passion for coffee, Eduardo is equally renowned for promoting inclusivity and continuous learning within the industry. His dedication and unique insights have established him as a revered leader and mentor across the U.S. and Latin America. 

We spoke with Eduardo to gain his perspective as America's premier coffee roaster. 

Picture Credits: Savor Brands
Picture Credits: Savor Brands

How does your personal philosophy about life influence your approach to coffee roasting and leadership at Mayorga Coffee?

That’s deep. There’s a lot that people just don’t know about me, and I share bits and pieces of myself over time. First and foremost, I am involved in an organization focused on Pan-Americanism, which aims to bring together people from Latin America, celebrate our cultures, and empower each other. This idea of empowerment is a major philosophy for me, alongside teaching. Originally, I was on a path to become a teacher, which is why it resonates with me to pass down knowledge and information. Some people covet knowledge and try to hide it, but I believe the more people know, the better we can all become.

Another philosophy that's critical for me is the combination of optimism and adaptability. Life is always going to throw challenges at you, and it's crucial to adapt. If you’re overwhelmed it can hinder your ability to adapt, so maintaining optimism is essential to push through tough times.

Winning the US Roaster Championship is a significant achievement. Can you describe your preparation process and what this win means to you personally and professionally?

As far as preparation goes, it was crucial, and I told myself that I would be intentional in preparing for the finals as soon as I passed in Houston. Last year in Portland, I didn’t get a chance to touch the Stronghold machine until I arrived there. After that competition, I remember saying that if I had had more time with the machine, I could have won or at least made it tougher for the other competitors to win.

I definitely tried to get my hands on the machine beforehand. Some very friendly coffee roasters lent me the machine, and I tried to get it up and running, but I couldn’t do it in time, so I needed to find somewhere else to practice. There was this coffee company in Chicago called Big Shoulders Coffee, and I am grateful to them for opening up their doors and allowing me to spend some time with the machine. I was there three days before the event, roasting, practicing, and preparing. And it wasn’t necessarily preparing with specific coffees or even tasting the results, because I had a pretty good idea of the type of results I could get from whatever coffee I threw into the machine. It was more about practicing the repetition and the sequence of the workflow, and seeing how coffees, when combined, would change the mechanics of the machine.

Winning means much more than just claiming a title or a piece of hardware. When I first started competing, one of the things I wanted was for people to understand my motivation and reasoning for competing. The first things I said were: I'm here because of the producers, the staff we work with, my family, and my culture. That's what winning means to me; it's not just for me, it's for everyone.

The producers we work with, both before and after the competition, sent me messages wishing me good luck and congratulating me. I don’t know how many people stand up for the producers, but to me, that’s huge. Seeing that made me very emotional and meant a lot. Coming back to the facility, everyone was very happy. It puts us on the map. Being the only Latino competing in the finals this year emphasized this even more. It’s about culture and family.

Eduardo Choza roasting at the competition.

How do the commitments to ethical sourcing that Mayorga Coffee is known for, influence your day-to-day decisions and the overall quality of your coffee roasting?

First of all, what influenced me to join Mayorga was the company's commitment to treating people fairly and its approach to working with individuals from the countries we come from. It’s about respect for others and humility, and on a daily basis, it's what keeps us moving forward together. I couldn't see myself working for a company that didn't uphold these values. Respecting people and providing opportunities that may not be available elsewhere is crucial. 

Can you discuss any innovative sourcing practices that you believe set Mayorga Coffee apart in the industry?

It's crucial that our direct work with producers involves true, direct interaction. It's about walking the walk, not just talking the talk. This isn't merely a business transaction; it's a relationship and a partnership. Even though I'm not the owner, I can directly communicate with our producers, which underscores the depth of our relationships. These partnerships are built for the long haul, aiming for lifelong connections. 

Eduardo Choza and Beatriz Garay cupping.

What are some of the specific steps you take to ensure the highest quality in every batch of coffee you roast?

It’s important to emphasize that we roast a variety of shades and colors, but all the coffees we roast are high-quality, which is what really makes our coffees stand out. The same high-quality coffee we use for our Cubano Roast is what we use for our Single Origin offerings; it’s simply high-quality coffee that we’re dark roasting, and that’s why it tastes so good. The same principle applies when we make a medium roast: it’s going to be an excellent medium roast because we use good coffees. When we lighten the roast to highlight the unique characteristics of the coffee, it truly stands apart. What matters most to us is that the coffee is good and that our consumers enjoy it.

As the Director of Coffee, how do you inspire and lead your team to achieve excellence in their work and maintain the high standards Mayorga Coffee is known for?

It's important to continually push our quality standards forward, and that's something we're actively working on: taking quality to the next level.

My leadership approach is threefold: 1. Leading by example, 2. Developing people, 3. Holding them accountable to those high standards as well. I take pride in the fact that I've developed and promoted many individuals. This is largely because they are naturally talented people who simply needed an opportunity.

Eduardo Choza and his ECR team at Mayorga Coffee.

What do you hope customers experience or feel when they drink a cup of Mayorga Coffee?

I hope our customers feel good knowing they're enjoying coffee that not only tastes great but also comes from a company committed to responsible practices. We maintain real relationships with the people we work with in Latin America, ensuring that every purchase supports a company that treats its people well. By choosing our coffee, customers are making a responsible choice, getting excellent value with coffee that's priced well and tastes fantastic.

What are your aspirations for the future of Mayorga Coffee, and how do you see the company evolving in the next five to ten years?

My goal has always been the same: to have every household in America know who Mayorga Coffee is. 



Eduardo Choza’s recent triumph at the 2024 US Coffee Roaster Championship is a testament to his extensive expertise and his innovative approach to roasting and blending coffee to bring out the best flavor notes. His winning blend—a meticulously crafted combination of 50% Papua New Guinea, 30% Nicaragua, and 20% Costa Rica—illustrates his strategic finesse and deep understanding of flavor profiles. This victory not only highlights his technical skills but also his philosophy of continuous learning and inclusivity within the coffee industry.

Eduardo's journey through the years has been marked by a relentless pursuit of perfection, experimenting with and refining high-quality roasts at Mayorga Coffee. His role extends beyond just crafting profiles; he is a leader who inspires and mentors his team and roasters beyond the company, always with a focus on empowering others.

Eduardo's expertise does not lead him to overlook the contributions of others. He remains a humble participant in the coffee community, eager to learn and quick to credit others, embodying a philosophy that learning can, indeed, come from anywhere and anyone. This blend of humility, expertise, and leadership not only propels his own success but also enriches the entire coffee industry and all the people that surround him.

While back at his demanding role as Mayorga’s Director of Coffee, Eduardo is preparing to  represent the US and Mayorga Coffee at the World Coffee Championship in Copenhagen in June 2024.


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