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 PUERTO RICO
Hacienda San Pedro
Coach: Karla M. Ortega
About me: I mixed the Industrial Design and the Barista Profession to construct the greatest dreams. I start competing in barista nationals and now I’m in a great project, recovering the industry of Puerto Rico’s coffee working together with the best coffee producers, promoting the specialty coffee standards and services.
I work daily in the Hacienda San Pedro Coffee Shops pouring the best espresso of my country. I educated the customers how their investment impacts the coffee farm when they are supporting the local specialty coffee producers. And also in February, 2013 I designed a educational station in my bicycle where I visit public places to brew fresh ground local coffee and serve specialty drinks based on coffee, without electricity just to go outside of the normal perception of coffee.
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’m the second generation of wood-furniture worker in my family and grandson of farmers. In 2005, I graduated from a technical high school and worked in the family business and related companies. After a year, I started work as a barista in 2006 while studying Industrial Design in the main School of Art of Puerto Rico.
How did you get started in coffee?
When I was looking for a part-time job, I found a full-time barista life!
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
Actually, my childhood has been related with coffee, because my grandfather was a coffee producer in Puerto Rico. But the most amazing experience with the coffee was in 2009 when I participated for first time in the World Barista Championship in Atlanta. I met a lot of coffee professionals, baristas, and companies from all around the world focusing on developing a real passion and respect for coffee, coffee farmers, and customers. At that time I learned the importance of professionalism.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
For the last 5 years, I’m so influenced by Don Roberto Atienza. His love for his country, his farm and his family is admirable and inspiring. Roberto is one of the most experimental coffee producers in Puerto Rico and we are in a direct contact crop to cup every year to develop to our customers the most incredible gift that [our island has to give: coffee].
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
I’d like to see more hands during the harvest.
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
I would like to share some espressos with Stephen Leighton because I think it’s so hard for him [when he is emceeing the WBC] to see a lot of presentation without a sip. It will a great pleasure meet him.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
Francesco Sanapo, he has a unstoppable passion and a big heart, his commitment motivates others! He is my brother.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
Kids. They are really honest, they love the latte art and require quality to share their coffee with their parents. They will be our next customers and our future.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
Everyone should visit Puerto Rico and the Hacienda San Pedro and Coffee Museum in Jayuya. They have everything: history about coffee production in our island, the farm and processing and the coffee shop that in the best of the case you can enjoy a great cup of coffee served by the coffee producer Mr. Roberto Atienza.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
It will be interesting visit countries like Ethiopia, Java, to meet the origin of the coffee, see and compare the climate and soil.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I love good music, drawing and enjoy life.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m working on it! With great goals achieves!
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
I’m really thankful to my wife Karla Ortega who supported me in this whole preparation for the WBC for the last 7 years. Thanks to Mr. Roberto Atienza and Rebecca Atienza, great people with a great passion for the coffee. And a great thanks to Lucemy Velazquez. All of them believed in this project!!