Editor’s note: As we approach the beginning of the 2014 World Barista Championship, which takes place in Rimini, Italy, June 9 “12, at the SCAE’s World of Coffee event, we would like to introduce you to the National Barista Champions who all worked incredibly hard to earn a position in this preeminent coffee contest. Profiles of all 54 competitors will appear on Barista Magazine’s blog between Monday, June 2, and Monday, June 9, and can all be accessed under the category header “WBC 2014 Rimini.”
BARISTA CHAMPION OF ECUADOR
Coach: Jose Nicolas Velez
About you: I am proud to be the first Ecuadorian barista participating in this event. I was born in Quito, Ecuador. My country produces one of the best coffees in the world and I am committed to promoting it everywhere. I started in the coffee world 4 years ago, first as a curiosity but increasingly it has captivated me and I have continued learning and teaching as well. One of the things I like most is that in the coffee value chain can [bring together] people, many places, many processes, many flavors, and contribute to the quality of coffee and also the quality of life of many people. As a barista I feel very lucky to live in a producing country, because I have the opportunity to be very close to farmers, and have a closer relationship with what I’m serving. I hope to move forward successfully in this competition with the intention of breaching all Ecuadorians baristas who come behind.
How many years have you worked with coffee or in the coffee industry?
Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
I studied marketing and advertising, and nine years ago I started my restaurant business.
How did you get started in coffee?
Just curious. I’ve always liked coffee but 4 years ago I wanted to learn a little more and since then I could not stop!
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
Two years ago in the first championship in Ecuador, I was sub champion!
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Jose NicolÃ¡s Vélez, for his commitment to the coffee value chain in Ecuador and his contribution to the whole industry in my country.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
The price per pound.
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Howard Schultz, for his vision to change the world of coffee.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
William Hernandez, [3rd] place in the 2013 WBC. For his performance, commitment and courage.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
Diego Barrera is a friend and my best customer. [He is a] veterinarian and [his] commitment to his work has made me more sensitive to the problems of pets and animals in the cities and countryside of my country. He lives his convictions and is a vegetarian, something not very common in my country.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
Victrola Coffee in Seattle!
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Africa, where it all began.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I am a chef and a gastronomic entrepreneur.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Being a trainer of champions baristas.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Government of my country right through to PROECUADOR and Specialty Coffee Association of Ecuador ACEDE, especially: Gabriela Romero and Jose Nicolas Vélez.