Coffee Talk with Brazil's Barista Champ

Coffee Talk with Brazil's Barista Champ

Meet Rafael Godoy!


Since the start of the new year Nossa Familia has been lucky to host Rafael Godoy, visiting us from São Paulo where he oversees quality control for Fazenda Santa Alina, one of the coffee farms that has been passed down through generations of Nossa Familia founder Augusto’s family in Brazil. Rafael is a seasoned professional with years of experience working in a range of capacities within the coffee industry including over 14 years as a barista and winning the prestigious title of Brazil’s Barista Champion in 2012. We asked Rafael to share more about what got him started in coffee, similarities and differences he has observed about our coffee culture here in Portland and his back home, and what inspires him today.

Rafael Godoy by Matt Lane

What is one of your earliest coffee memories?
I didn't like coffee until my first job. I was born and raised in Brazil. When I was growing up I witnessed a majority of the population consuming low quality commercial coffee. After trying this bad coffee, I grew up thinking that coffee was everything but a good and pleasant beverage.

What inspired you to pursue a coffee career? 
I got my first job as a barista when I turned 18. I clearly remember my reaction to my first cup of specialty coffee, I was really curious about why I was able to perceive clear fruit notes like strawberry in the cup of coffee that I wasn’t perceiving in the coffee used in my home. Curiosity became passion, and shortly became my career plan, especially when I found out that my country is the top coffee producer in the world but not the top coffee consumer, I wanted to be a part of the solution.

“my country is the top coffee producer in the world but not the top coffee consumer, I wanted to be a part of the solution”

Brazil has some of the most important programs in our universities to study, explore, and improve coffee production. We have plentiful areas of agriculture which allows us to have access to amazing diversity in coffee profiles. In some regions it’s possible to have numerous coffee profiles because of multiple microclimates, fertile soil, and alternative ways to process coffee. 

We have all of these resources and incredible coffee but we don’t have widespread consumer appreciation for specialty coffee. In Brazil we need to talk to customers about the quality of coffee more and explain the differences in specialty coffee.

What is something unique to Brazilian coffee drinking culture? 
Funny thing, we’re the only country in the world with the word coffee being part of one of our meals. What breakfast is for Americans is called ‘cafe da manha’ for Brazilians. Indirectly the translation could be “coffee in the morning.” Maybe there could be a change in American culture!? 

Have you noticed differences between Portland and São Paulo’s cafe culture?
I’ve seen more people drinking coffee outside their homes, whereas in Brazil we mostly drink coffee at home. It’s normal to see people in America walking around with a to-go cup of coffee, or in their cars while driving, those were some signs that really made me realize I wasn’t in Brazil anymore. Here in the U.S. people will go out just to visit a coffee shop just for coffee. In Brazil we don't have many coffee shops. At the coffee shops we do have, most customers order something along with the coffee, a simple snack, lunch, or pastries. In America I’ve noticed that for the most part, customers will only order coffee. 

Portofilter photo credit Matt Lane

What coffees from Nossa Familia have you been enjoying?
When I got here my favorites for a while were Full Cycle and Augusta’s Organic Breakfast. The result of the blend from Full Cycle is an amazing – really balanced coffee. The body, acidity and sweetness of Augusta’s got me in the first sip. In Brazil we have an old saying that goes something like ‘good for all the occasions.’ Augusta’s and Full Cycle are much like this.

Now, after a couple of weeks, I’ve been drinking more Ernesto’s House Roast for all my lattes. The mixture between the milk and the coffee flavor notes are
really good in my personal opinion.

Espresso drink photo credit Matt Lane

The new microlot from Nicaragua, the natural one, is for sure my new favorite.
I’ve had this coffee on drip, as a pour over and brewed with the aeropress -  all work perfectly to enhance the gorgeous sweetness, body and medium acidity with distinct blueberry notes you can clearly perceive from this coffee. I worked on fine tuning the roasting profile for this coffee with Kyle for two weeks and it was totally worth it.

Rafael Godoy photo credit Matt Lane

What’s your preferred way of making coffee at home? 

Aeropress has been my favorite for a while. It is a drip coffee with a touch of pressure, which means I'll have a good and more complex extraction and  more to enjoy in my cup of coffee. 

What do you enjoy about teaching coffee classes? 

I do love to teach. It's one of my favorite parts about working in the coffee industry; sharing the full potential of coffee is what delights me. 95% of the time I manage to change something in my students’ minds – their favorite coffee profile, the way they make coffee, the way they buy coffee, and for sure the way they drink coffee. Some of my students have started their own business after taking my classes. Showing them the world of coffee and the real potential they can have with it is for sure one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Rafael Godoy in the snow on Mt. Hood

How has your experience been visiting Portland and the U.S.? 

I have a lot of good pictures that I’ll frame to hang on my walls at home to always remember the experience I enjoyed here, including pumpkin carving during my first halloween, a baseball game, hiking, biking through downtown Portland, and the snow for sure! I experienced the snow for the first time in my life. I also spent a couple days in New York for the first time. They have amazing coffee shops there, and a lot more too! I grew up watching American movies and tv shows so it felt like I was a character in a movie sometimes.

Washed vs. Natural: What's the deal with coffee processing methods?

Upcoming Coffee Classes with a Barista Champion of Brazil (March 2022)

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