Submissions have now closed for the 2024 class of the Sprudge Twenty, but before we announce this year’s nominees, there’s one more interview from 2023 we’d like to share: Abner Roldan of Cafe Comunión in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Watch this space for a 2024 announcement in the coming days. 

Abner is the total definition of a coffee professional and an incredible candidate for the 2023 Class. Starting in a small coffee shop as a dishwasher, to champion/incredible competitor to now co-owner of one of the most successful Latino-owned coffee shops in USA/Puerto Rico. I nominate Abner not only for his passion but for his ability to navigate such a harsh industry when diversity and inclusion were not on the table like they are now. He has seen it all, and he has been through it all. He didn’t let his “disadvantages” define who he would become in this industry. And look at him now.

I’ve never seen someone as dedicated to learning and growing as he. Last year when he decided to get back into competitions and participate in Coffee Masters and almost get that title on his first try, I was reminded of his unique ability to learn it all and do it all with the utmost professionalism and dedication.

As a father to our son and partner in life and business, I couldn’t be more sure that he needs no be part of this class.

Nominated by Karla Ly

How long have you worked in coffee?

15 years

What is the quality you like best about coffee?

The quality I like most about coffee is that it can bring people together. Coffee has allowed me to belong to a local and global community. I have connected, worked, and conspired with people across the coffee chain, making me proud to belong to this community.

What was your first coffee job?

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My first coffee job was in 2008 with Encantos, a company with coffee booths inside Sam’s Clubs in Puerto Rico.

What is your current role in coffee?

I co-own Cafe Comunión with my wife, Karla Quiñones. We also own a coffee school called Aula.

Did you experience a “god shot” or life-changing moment of coffee revelation early in your life?

My life-changing moment was in 2013, after I won the National Latte Art Championship. Dalla Corte, the espresso machine sponsor, invited the champions to train in their headquarters in Milan, Italy. I met many people I admired, and seeing them work and train helped me see myself as a professional. I decided that I wanted to work in coffee forever.

What issue in coffee do you care about most?

I am very concerned about coffee production in Puerto Rico. We have experienced many hurricanes, droughts, and issues that affect coffee growers annually. The Puerto Rican population consumes a lot of coffee, but 90% of this coffee is imported. One situation is that the only one that can import coffee is the government. I wish that the local production could grow and that specialty coffee could be imported more freely.

Do you often make coffee at home? If so, tell us how you brew!

Most of the time, I drink coffee at my coffee shop, but I make myself a cappuccino during the holidays or if I’m off in the morning. I also usually visit another neighborhood coffee shop to sit down and relax for a couple of minutes.

What is your favorite song to brew coffee to?

In the morning “Casio” by Jungle. In the afternoon “Me Porto Bonito” by Bad Bunny.

What is your idea of coffee happiness?

For me, the idea of ​​happiness in coffee is enjoying coffee with people. With my family at my grandmother’s house, with my clients, or with my Latin American friends one morning before the Coffee Expo. Happiness is in sharing coffee.

Who inspires you in the world of coffee?

My wife and partner, Karla Quiñones, and my friends Lem Butler from Black & White Coffee and Samuel Coto from Panorama Coffees have inspired me and taught me with their passion, dedication, and empathy for others in the coffee chain.

If you could drink coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would like to have coffee daily with my parents Irma and José. They were the ones who instilled in me, perhaps unconsciously, the ritual of drinking coffee daily and talking. I would also like to have coffee with Anthony Bourdain. I never met him, but his books and shows made me see him as a mentor. I’d like to drink coffee with him at Café Loco on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala and discuss his infamous opinion on specialty coffee and the glory days of punk rock while we make fun of hippies.

Thank you. 

The Sprudge Twenty feature series is presented in partnership with Pacific Barista Series.