Sprudge.com recently attended the Soyuz Coffee Roasters pop-up cafe in Red Square, staffed by 7 National Champion baristas from around the world. We’re profiling each of the champions, and today we’re featuring Monika Palova, Barista Champion of Slovakia.

The reigning barista champion of Slovakia, Monika Palova’s career in coffee reads like something out of a spy novel. After emigrating to Dublin, Ireland at the age of 18 to study medicine, she found herself instead seduced by a world of international coffee intrigue. Soon she was traveling the fazenda backroads of Brazil, attending reportedly enormous latte art events in the teeming backstreets of Sao Paolo. Charged with the vitality one earns from escaping such perilous situatious, Monika returned to Ireland and went to work with Colin Harmon at his groundbreaking Dublin cafe 3Fe.

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In a brogue evenly split between her Irish moorings and Slovakian roots, Monika told Sprudge: “That’s when I fell in love with coffee. Fell in fucking love. All the beans, all the coffee, the cuppings…this community, these people, it’s such a special place. Colin started a revolution in Ireland”.

Named for the third floor apartment Mr. Harmon used to train for WBC Atlanta, 3Fe is an internationally recognized specialty coffee destination with a recently opened 2nd location in Dublin 1. Monika is the manager at the original 3Fe. With further Irish inflection, she said: “When you work in a place you fucking love, with people you fucking love, with coffee you fucking love, what could be better than that? It’s never the same thing, ever. It is the most exciting to me.”

Monika competed in Slovakia, representing her home town of Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš, though she is now eligible to compete in Ireland as well. 2010-2011 was her first year competing in a WBC event, and as of the time of this interview, she was unsure as to whether she’ll compete again next year in Slovakia or Ireland. Her head and heart certainly seem to be in Dublin, where she manages the original 3Fe and oversees the brew bar and coffee service at the newly opened 3Fe II. “This place is Colin’s dream”, meaning the brand new cafe. “Everything is custom-made. The brewbars, the tables…the lights are like stars. It looks like a fairy tale.” Sounds like it’s Monika’s dream, too.

When in Dublin, be sure to visit Monika and Colin at 3FE.

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