What other coffee jobs have you had?
I started in coffee in the summer of 2008. That’s when I launched BRASC Coffee Importers focusing on specialty green coffee beans from my homeland, Brazil. As the years went by, more and more of my customers started to ask me to help them find microlots and special lots from other origins, as well. At the end of 2012, when Ally Coffee approached me to merge with them, I was importing coffees from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Today I’m able to say that we source green coffee beans directly not only from farmers in South and Central America, but also in Africa and Indonesia.
What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?
I love meeting coffee farmers from all over the world, learning from them and exchanging information with them for the sake of better coffee. I get to visit them at their farms and see first-hand their struggles and success, as well.
Something I also love in this industry is to participate in the competitions as a Brewers Cup judge. I get to see the farmer’s effort to put out excellent coffees being represented by awesome baristas showcasing their skills/talents, all in a cup of this amazing beverage—coffee.
Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I’ll still be too young to retire. I’ll definitely be working in coffee.
Who and what inspires you?
I have an awesome wife and lovely kids. My wife has been there since the beginning cheering me on. Their support inspires me to continue on this coffee journey. Also, I’m always inspired by the specialty-coffee industry because it’s always evolving. The knowledge, sharing, and innovation is amazing.
What are you drinking right now?
I’m drinking right now a delicious coffee from Due South Coffee Roasters. It’s the Brazil Bobolink lot 265—caramel, cinnamon, apple-like acidity and creamy body. It’s an all-day kind of coffee, especially a snow day.
Crazy/memorable coffee experience you’d like to share?
In November 2013, I was visiting some small producers in Colombia I had just started to work with. We started our day by going on a 3-hour horseback ride through Las Mercedes coffee farm up to 2,000 meters above sea level. In each plot we passed by, Don Alfonso explained to us the varietals and why he decided to plant them in that specific place. After the horseback riding and before we continued our visit, we were treated to an incredible typical plate called “Bandeja Paisa.” After a delicious lunch, we headed to a farm 20 miles north from Las Mercedes. We met the farmer and we got in her truck and went up 10 minutes away to Betania. The view was breathtaking! Beautiful mountains covered in coffee trees. After a couple of hours of visiting 2 small farms and a wet mil,l we decided to head back to Betania. That’s when things took a crazy turn. It was getting dark (around 7pm) and we were going down a dirt road and we noticed that a tree had fallen on the road. It actually was a trap prepared by some robbers ready to ambush us. As we stopped the truck and put it in reverse, 3 guys jumped from behind the coffee trees shooting at us, trying to make us stop. At that point we could not do anything. We stopped the truck, put our hands up, and they started taking all of our stuff. After 45 minutes waiting on the side of the road and watching 30+ people being robbed as well by this group of bandits, we were told to take off. Thankfully nobody got hurt, but it definitely scared all of us that took part in this ordeal.
What are you doing when you’re not doing coffee?
I try to spend as much time as possible with my family. I love taking my wife and kids to new places. Also, I love food and am always looking forward to trying new restaurants and plates as often as I can. I love the farm-to-table movement and I’m always supporting restaurants that are part of it.