10 Minutes With Alexander Ruas

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Alexander Ruas
Coach for Swedish National Barista Team
&
Creative Coffee Consultant
Stockholm, Sweden

What other coffee jobs have you had?

I’ve always been a freelance/consultant coffee dude but I’ve shared my office with Drop Coffee before Drop even existed. I pulled my fair share of shots and brewed my V60s at coffee bars 124, Tvålpalatset, and of course Drop Coffee here in Stockholm. Earlier on, I did workshops of coffee tasting, brewing, and roasting. For Drop Coffee, I’ve had a role in most areas—from training to sourcing, and QC, but mostly my focus has been on R&D.

Since becoming the Swedish Barista Champ a few years ago, I’ve done consulting for large and small roasters, and coffee hardware companies in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Norway, France, and of course, Sweden. Also, I’ve hosted a segment on TV4′s Good Morning Sweden that was called “The Coffee School.” For the last two years I’ve had the role of coach for the Swedish National Barista Team where I organize events for our team to promote specialty coffee together with Swedish SCAE. It’s all happening now, tweeps!

As the 2011 Swedosh Barista Champion, Alexander was hard at work preparing for his presentation in Bogota in this photo, with Erik and a new friend.

As the 2011 Swedosh Barista Champion, Alexander was hard at work preparing for his presentation in Bogota in this photo, with Erik and a new friend.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

The people and the coffee. Seriously, what drives me is the thirst for coffee knowledge. It’s a case of the classic “the more I learn the more I realize how little I know.” The fact that people in the coffee community are really swell is a huge bonus, of course. From competing, coaching, and consulting, I’ve gotten to know coffee people all over the world, and there is generally always an ambitious coffee bar in whatever city you’re in to hang with.

Alexander performing on stage at the World Barista Championship in 2011 in Colombia.

Alexander performing on stage at the World Barista Championship in 2011 in Colombia.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

I want to continue competing and coaching for competitions forever and ever. If I’m fortunate enough to win a few more competitions, that will be a big plus. I have to say though that my goal of competing has never been to win but to learn more in the process. I am usually described as a very driven person, but the secret behind my sweet life in the coffee community is that I basically always make “having fun right now” my first priority.

So I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 10 years—but it will be loads of fun!

Alexander sorts cherry at Ninety Plus Gesha Estate in Panama.

Alexander sorts cherry at Ninety Plus Gesha Estate in Panama.

Who and what inspires you?

Of course it’s all about the producers of these amazing coffees. But this is the part where I want to mention my three buddies who have been my coffee companions for many years: Oskar Garberg, Erik Rosendahl, and Joanna Alm. We’ve had an amazing journey together, won championships, travelled to coffee-producing countries, competed at two WBCs, and just had too much fun. But in the big picture, it’s all about my daughters, Zoey and Olga. Everything else means very little.

What are you drinking right now? 

Right now I’m drinking Drop Coffee’s Jazmin. It’s a washed Pacas from Honduras, and although it’s a very light roast, I’ve been making espresso with it using an EK43 grinder and the Linea PB: 20 grams in [a] 28-second shot and 50 grams out is the “god shot” over and over again! So intense, balanced, sweet, and juicy—it’s mindblowing.

Alexander (far left) with members of the Swedish Barista Team upon winning the Nordic Barista Cup in 2011, a victory that earned the team a trip to Sumatra. Alexander says: "I don't know who the skinny guy on the right is."

Alexander (far left) with members of the Swedish Barista Team upon winning the Nordic Barista Cup in 2011, a victory that earned the team a trip to Sumatra. Alexander says: “I don’t know who the skinny guy on the right is.”

Crazy/memorable coffee experience you’d like to share?

The most “hair-standing-on-end-and-goose bumps” fun experience I’ve had would have to be serving the judges at the 2011 World Barista Championship in Bogota, Colombia. It made me want to compete for ever and ever.

The prize for “pretty awesome for a Swede” fun goes to the day I was doing a coffee training for the staff at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Los Angeles, and found myself during the afternoon serving cappuccinos to Sofia Coppola, Bono, Matt Dillon, and Ethan Hawke. Just a regular Tuesday in L.A.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.