WBC Countdown: Barista Champion of Costa Rica Maria Auxiliadora Bonilla

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MARIA AUXILIADORA BONILLA
BARISTA CHAMPION OF COSTA RICA
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Barista Mag: Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?

Maria: I am a Public Relations professional and I also have a degree in Communication and Marketing.

BMag: How did you get started in coffee?

Maria: I was born into a coffee-producing family. Since I was a little girl, I have spent my school vacations picking coffee to help my family. When I grew older, my father taught me and my brothers how to assist at the farms in order to get a better production. In 2005, my father started processing our coffee, and since then I have taken cupping lessons to learn more about coffee. I also started taking barista courses in 2009 so I can accomplish my dream of opening my own café.

BMag: What was your first amazing experience with coffee?

Maria: One of the most wonderful moments I have had with coffee is when the first [crops] were exported to Trieste, Italy, in 2005 because it meant we reached one of our major goals as a family.

BMag: Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?

Maria: Definitely the person that taught me most about coffee is my father. Because since  I was a little girl he has showed me how to work with coffee and see it as a way of life.

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BMag: What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?

Maria: I would like to see the direct trade [model] become stronger between producers and buyers.

BMag: Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:

Maria: Fritz Storm because I have heard a lot about him as a barista and trainer, and he is a very innovative and creative person.

BMag: Name a barista you admire, and why:

Maria: Last year I had the opportunity to meet Japan’s barista champion Hidenori Isaki. I admire him because he is a very humble, and he is a happy and helpful person.

BMag: Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.

Maria: I don’t have a specific one because I believe every customer is different in tastes and needs.

BMag: Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?

Maria: I would recommend any cafe that is run by coffee producers because this assures the highest quality coffee offered. Brumas del Zurqui in Heredia and Mutute Boutique Cafe Tarrazu are two that I like.

BMag: Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?

Maria: I would like to visit Kenya because I know the high quality coffee they produce and I admire the way of the producers live and process their coffee.

BMag: What are your interests outside of coffee?

Maria: I love to travel and get to know other cultures and places. I like music a lot because it’s a way of relaxing and having fun. I really like spending time with my family.

BMag: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Maria: I see myself as a succesful bussines woman with more than one cafe being able to employ other people. And I’d love to be a barista trainer.

BMag: Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?

Maria: First I would like to thank my family for working so hard this last harvest in order for me to bring an excellent coffee to the WBC. Also I thank the Asociacion de Cafes Finos and ICAFE for the financial support, and the trainers they put next to me and to all of them for believing in me.

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.