Barista Champion of The Philippines

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.”

Kevin Israel Fortu
EDSA Beverage Design Group

The Philippines' Kevin
The Philippines’ Kevin Israel Fortu

Coach: Silvester Samonte

About you: I am currently working at the EDSA Beverage Design Group as coffee bar manager and trainer. I got into coffee when I was introduced to the Barista Guild of the Philippines in 2009. I started my career when I joined some of the barista competitions in our country in the year 2010. After I won for the first time, I kept on joining barista competitions every year. In 2012 I started to work as a full time barista in one of the first third wave coffee shops in my country. I love exploring coffee, and love the coffee community. I am happy to be part of the coffee industry.

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?
Hospitality Industry. I studied HRM and Culinary Arts when I was in college.

How did you get started in coffee?
I got introduced by one of my professors in bar management who invited me to attend a coffee seminar outside the university, then I fell in love with coffee.

What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
When I tasted the Panama Geisha La Esmeralda for the first time!

Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
My mentors and my college friends. Because I have gained my experience in coffee with them.

What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
More improvisation and sharing of ideas.

Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
One of them is James Hoffmann. I’m interested in the way he shares his ideas and knowledge to everyone. I want to meet also all the past world barista champions.

Name a barista you admire, and why:
Pete Licata, I admire the way he presented the coffee chain during his presentation and I admire him as the 2013 World Barista Champion.

Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
Yes, one of our regular customers. Every time he orders his cappuccino, he always says “cappuccino with love”, thus making his drink with lot of love.

Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
I recommend other specialty coffee shops in my country. There’s a lot of new cafes that will be opening this year and that’s very exciting.

Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Ethiopia. I always dream of getting to know more of the varieties in the birthplace of coffee and recall the history of coffee.

What are your interests outside of coffee?
Music. I play the lead guitar or bass guitar. I like to travel in different places to try other beverages and foods. I’m interested in mountain climbing too and outdoor activities.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Exploring coffee and traveling in different parts of the world. Having my own cafe and roaster.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Thanks to the EDSA team, our coffee consultants and all the people behind who helped me. I would like to thank my parents who were always there to support me.


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