Well good hot damn, we’re a day or two of jet lag and flu medication behind on this one, but Raul Rodas has done it again! “El Tigre” has won the Guatemalan Barista Championship for an astounding fourth time, securing his spot in the 2012 Vienna WBC.

Raul last competed at the World Barista Championship in London in 2010, where he finished 2nd overall, but he first captured the world’s attention in 2009 by placing 7th at WBC Atlanta. Raul’s Atlanta competition was a dramatic affair, and Brent Fortune was there there to cover it on CleanHotDry. Look back with us for a moment, if you would, at this fascinating snapshot of secrets, bean switcheroos, smoldering passions, late 2000’s Intelli personalities and Central American history:

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One of the most interesting, and possibly most untold stories of WBC coffees, is of the top scoring barista from Central America.  Raul Rodas is 22 years old, and the two-time barista Champion of Guatemala.  Raul’s WBC performance put him in 7th place in the WORLD, with a beautiful coffee that several people helped to get to the WBC. (Last year in Copenhagen, he took 25th place.)  This was the first time ANY barista from Central America has ever placed in the top 10 in the WBC’s. (In this historic year there were TWO, Flor de Maria from El Salvador placed 9th.)

Raul was using a single origin, new crop coffee from Huehuetenango called La Maravilla.  He discovered this coffee when he saw it being used by Ryan Wilbur and Nick Griffith in the US Western Regional Barista Comp in Los Angeles back in January.  Nick & Ryan both work at Intelly and became fast friends with Raul.  Realizing that a single orgin Guat could put you in 1st & 3rd place in the toughest region in the USA, Raul wanted to know more about this coffee.

Upon returning to Guatemala, he contacted the producer of that coffee, Mauricio Rosales, who offered to send Raul some green samples of his new 2009 crop.  Raul received several samples of the fresh green beans.  Two bags of this green were secretly carried across the US border inside a suitcase, then quickly shipped by FedEx to Deaton, the head roaster for Intelly in LA. Deaton roasted the two lots 3 different ways, then cupped them and had them evaluated by other coffee tasters.  It was agreed that one of the lots was complex and delicious enough to be worthy of a WBC espresso.

Read the rest at CleanHotDry, and congratulations, Raul! We’ll see you in Vienna!

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