This week, Steve sits down to chat with an old friend in El Salvador— No, we know what you’re thinking, and it’s not a bucket of Pollo Campero (although we’re sure he considered it). It’s newly-titled Director of Coffee at Viva Espresso in San Salvador and superstar World Barista Champion coach, Federico Bolanos!
Episode the 45th initially takes us back to the golden age of coffee blogs, books, and forums, when Federico—after hating and dismissing coffee for years—decides to give it another try for a girl (his now wife, Lily Pacas, 2008 Salvadoran Barista Champion; Café Tuxpal), landing him in a long-time love affair with learning everything he can about coffee. From there, Steve and Federico embark on a discussion of WBC, coaching, non-insular teamwork, and a once-unspoken-but-now-not-so-secret frustration with the current competition format before finishing with some interesting thoughts on the benefits of consolidating businesses. Also covered in this episode: the biggest mistake competitors make in preparing for competition, stalking coffee people, WBC trends over the years, why Federico wasn’t to be seen at last year’s WBC, and how bigger is sometimes better.