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 CHAMION OF BRAZIL
Café do Moço
Coach: Estela Cotes
About you: My name is Leo Moço, I was born in Rio de Janeiro, and I’m 35 years old. I am graduate in IT and Nutrition, married and with a 4-year-old daughter. I’ve already worked in the USA taking Brazilian’s coffee to New York and today I live in Curitiba where I could open my coffee roastery, Café do Moço, and the Barista Coffee Bar, a project that aims to spread the special coffee culture in Brazil offering good beverage with fair prices. I went to the Brazilian Barista Championship for nine years until I could get here to represent my country in the WBC.
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 never imagined one day I would work with coffee. When I was young I didn’t even like to drink it! My first graduation was in IT (2001). I used to work in a big hotel company, more than 12 hours a day. This routine was exhausting and I needed to change it. My second college was Nutrition with specialization in microbiology (2005). I decided to have my own business: a cafe. But nowadays I can use the technology and the scientific knowledge as barista and roaster.
How did you get started in coffee?
In 2005, I lost a son. He died in the eighth of pregnancy. It was the biggest trauma in my life. During this time I was working very hard at a hotel and noticed that life was more than that. That’s why I decided to have my own business, doing what I believe and spending my time with what really matters. While I was creating the business plan of my first coffee shop I discovered the coffee universe and found there a new passion.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
When I decided to study coffee in a deep way, I chose a farm as my school! I lived three months in the countryside, the south part of Minas Gerais, in touch with the whole chain of coffee production. I had the chance to be in the coffee harvest, to listen and see the producer’s challenges, observing how they transform the coffee bean from the tree to the cup.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
My friend Paul Germscheid. He’s a German that lives in São Paulo. In 2006 I won a regional championship and had the news that he was in Brazil representing La Marzocco’s machines and Mahlkönig grinders. We got in touch and I started to learn more about coffee machines and mainly about roasting, one of my current jobs. As an engineer he taught me about extraction techniques and together we developed a big study in roasting looking for the best flavors.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
I would like to see Brazil being recognized not only as the biggest coffee producer in the world, but as a country that is able to create as much different flavors profile we wish—we can be more than just basic coffee!
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet and why?
I would like to meet any coffee producer in Africa, Ethiopia, to understand how a man that is from a country that is native producer interferes in the production to have that flavors that calls the world attention.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
Sammy Piccolo, from Canada. Three times [runner up] in the WBC, he is one of the most complete professionals I’ve ever seen.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
My favorite customer is the one that accepts the experience barista is offering.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
OCafe in New York. The place is really cool with sustainable furniture and great coffees from many countries such as Africa and Brazil.
Which coffee producing country would you like to visit, and why?
I would also like to visit Panama, because it has one of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, the Geisha variety.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
Difficult question! I dedicate almost the whole day for coffee! I also like to practice sports like sword-play and run at the beach.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I wish my business the Barista Coffee Bar would be spread in Brazil with at around 15 stores opened. I want to see my family, wife, and sons, happy and healthy.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
I would like to thank the producers that had helped me to be where I am today, the friends that are helping the Brazilian coffee industry to reach a different position, and my wife that is supporting me during the WBC training.