Getting to Know Remy Molina, 2018 New York Coffee Masters Winner

Remy Molina is your 2018 New York Coffee Masters Winner! Representing Café Barakah, the newly crowned champion talks to us about what it means to represent Costa Rica on a global stage. 


Photos by Monica Reida 

Remy Molina is your 2018 New York Coffee Masters winner! The competition, which took place during the New York Coffee Festival, tested 16 baristas from all over the world on a variety of skills. At the end, only one stood—Remy! In this interview, Remy, of Café Barakah in Costa Rica, talks to us about his past competition experience, what makes a signature drink special, and much more.

Monica Reida: Congratulations on winning Coffee Masters this year. How does it feel?
Remy Molina: Amazing. It’s a dream come true, actually, and this is for Costa Rica. It’s not me winning, it’s Costa Rica. It’s the whole country, a coffee-producing country, and I know this is going to be motivation for a lot of baristas. I hope they can come and they can do the same as me.

Remy Molina as he wins the 2018 New York Coffee Masters competition. Remy was embraced by his competitor, Reef Bessette, after being declared the winner of Coffee Masters 2018.

MR: And you had competed in Coffee Masters before, right?
RM: Yes, last year.

MR: And how far did you get then?
RM: Not past the first round.

MR: And this year you were the champion. Does that make it feel better?
RM: Yes, but this is not only me. There are a lot of people involved. I think it’s a lot of work and a lot of support.

Remy focuses during the order portion of the Coffee Masters finals at the New York Coffee Festival.

MR: What was the inspiration for your signature drink?
RM: First impressions, actually. I like to travel and I like to go to different places. The first impression you get of a place is something you will never forget. So I wanted to bring that first impression, the first thing that people think about Costa Rica, beaches and coffee, right? I wanted to mix both of them and make a really good impression because I think it’s a moment that is very decisive. If you make a good impression, people will never forget about you or that coffee. When serving people and drinks, I think that impression you make is very, very important.

MR: I noticed during the brewing portion that while you used a V60 for brewing, you also used an AeroPress paddle. What was the reasoning behind that?
RM: I always like to move the coffee a little bit when I’m doing the bloom because I think if you don’t do that, there are some coffee particles that are not going to get wet. So you need to give a little stir. I use the AeroPress just to move it, but you could do it with a spoon or something to give a little stir, but not a hard stir.

Remy discusses his signature drink with the judges during the Coffee Masters finals.

MR: During the order portion of the competition, you only got seven of the 10 drinks. What was your feeling from the order portion?
RM: In coffee shops, specialty coffee is going to take time. If you want to do a really good extraction and brew, you need to take time. We are not robots, so you have to take things slowly in order to know it’s going to be good. So for me it’s more important that the result is good than the timing.

MR: What coffee did you choose for the brew portion and why did you choose it?
RM: I picked a Costa Rican coffee. It’s my country, it’s in my veins. So that’s why. It’s actually a really good coffee. I know a little bit about Costa Rican coffee, so I know how to brew them. It was easy—well, it was hard because you need to do a really good brew, but I really know my recipe.

MR: And now that you’re done competing for a total of more than four hours over the course of three days, what are you going to do?
RM: Relax and enjoy New York. I want to take a look around. Pretty sure I’m going to enjoy it this time.

Monica Reida is a writer currently based in Milwaukee. Her writing has appeared in OnMilwaukeeMilwaukee RecordNewCityIowa Theatre, and Gapers Block, where she served as the politics editor from 2013-15. She is the creator of California Flags, a Twitter bot dedicated to municipal and county symbols of California. When she is not writing, she can be found reading with her cat, tweeting too much, or taking photographs of architecture and public infrastructure, most of which can be found on her Instagram.

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