WBC Finalist #3: Raul Rodas, Guatemala

Everyone and their grandmother likes Raul Rodas; he’s just one of those guys. Actually, he’s unique in how beloved he is in this coffee industry. But there’s no big secret reason for it—he’s kind and friendly, he wants to meet everyone, not just the heavy hitters (of which he has been one for years now), but the newbies, as well. In fact, he loves meeting the newbies and hearing about the passion of the next generation. For this, Raul is solid gold in this industry.

Doris (in black shirt) of Anacafe, the Guatemalan Coffee Association) was telling me how proud she is of Raul, and how much he has matured as a man in the past few years through his development in coffee.

He’s also probably the most down-to-earth guy here. He’s really not phased by all the fuss surrounding competition. In fact, he didn’t even know he would compete until a few days before his national competition. And the reason he did? Because he and his friend, Raul, a farmer in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, had been having a blast with experimentations.So Raul thought, hey, let’s share this with people. They’ll probably think it’s as cool as we did. So he competed, and he won.

Raul, the ultimate professional.

Not really a big surprise there: Raul famously placed second in the uber-competitive 2010 World Barista Championship in London, a higher rank than any barista from a producing country at that time.

Raul preparing to make his cappuccinos.

So needless to say, everyone was stoked, just stoked, to see Raul take the stage. We knew he’d treat us to a good time, that he’d present amazing coffees, create a party on stage, and likely not make a misstep.

And he didn’t.

Raul doesn’t mind taking chances—in fact he loves taking chances. But coffee farmers tend to be scared of it. So Raul felt even more proud that the experiments went so well.

He presented the judges with an amazing array of jars filled with coffee in various stages: cascara, unwashed, semiwashed, and washed. He creates teas with each of these, then had the judges taste it in comparison to the espresso he had made of the same coffee.

The presentations of coffees in different stages, and the teas made from those, along with the espresso from those same beans, in the final stage.

Raul was, no surprise, a complete and utter joy to watch. Raul, you never cease to amaze us.

Final time: 14.57

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.