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 EL SALVADOR
Coach: Federico Bolanas
About you: This year will be my second time competing at the World Barista Championship. Last year at the WBC in Melbourne, I finished 3rd and was happy with the result because it was my first time competing, but more importantly because I learned a lot and made many new friends. This year, I found another really great coffee and a been training very hard with my team, so I hope to do a good job in Italy. I feel really proud to represent my country and to be part of an award-winning roastery like Viva Espresso in El Salvador. I have been working as a barista for a little over 2 years now. I was very happy when my friend Alejandro Mendez became the first World Barista Champion from a coffee producing country.
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 got my first job at Viva Espresso. There I began working as a waiter, because there wasn’t any barista position open at the time. In college I studied graphic design.
How did you get started in coffee?
I was 18 years old and looking for my first job. A friend of mine that worked as a barista at Viva Espresso recommended me, and soon after, I got hired by Federico Bolanos, who has been my coach for barista championships.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
I don’t remember the exact date, but it was in Viva Espresso when I had a cup of coffee that tasted just like caramel! It was a real eye opener to drink coffee so sweet and yummy!
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Daniel Mendez, because he was always right next to me answering all my questions about coffee, and he taught me the foundation techniques about espresso and coffee brewing. He has also transmitted to me the passion for coffee.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
I would like specialty coffee to rise to the same nobility status as the great wines so it can be valued higher, like it deserves. Producers devote an entire year to produce coffee and face many challenges at the farm and mill, and sometimes they barely make ends meet. We need to double our efforts to make the consumers understand all the sacrifice and work that goes into making a coffee taste great so they are willing to pay more for coffee.
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Last year I had the opportunity to meet many coffee professionals that I admired and I discovered that they are all great people and good examples to follow.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
My friend Alejandro Mendez, because he was the first World Barista Champion from a coffee producing country. I think his performance was stunning and a true game-changer for the competitions. But most importantly, I admire Alejandro because he is a formidable person, down to earth and humble.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
I don’t have one favorite customer in particular. I guess I like all the people that are curious about coffee and are interested in discovering why a coffee tastes the way it does! However, I don’t discriminate. I also like to reach out to customers that don’t ask questions because it is a great opportunity to connect them with specialty coffee. I love talking about coffee to this kind of customer because it makes my work as a barista much more meaningful.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
I’ve never been to the cafe called 5PM in Guadalajara, Mexico, owned by Fabrizio Sencion, but I’ve heard many good things about the work they do with coffee.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Kenya. I really wish to visit this country because I want to learn how they produce such amazing coffees!
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I like to play football and my favorite team is FC Barcelona. One of my dreams is to go see a match at the Nou Camp, their stadium.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Definitely drinking coffee! I see myself teaching other people about coffee and how to experience it better. I see myself making more coffee drinkers and helping producers make a better living with the the coffee they produce.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
First and foremost I would like to thank Federico Bolanos, my coach, for all his experience and ideas for my competition performances and because he has been a great mentor and a good friend. Also, Alejandro and Daniel Mendez for all their guidance and advice and for showing me the importance of being a humble and sharing person.