World-renowned barista shared his passion for coffee at Open Eye


Raul Rodas, the 2012 World Barista Champion, serves as a guest barista at Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro on Wednesday. He is from Guatemala City.

After only seven years in the coffee business, Raul Rodas is at the top of his game.

On Saturday, Rodas — the Guatemalan-born 2012 World Barista Champion and owner of Paradigma Coffee Roasters — demonstrated his holistic approach to the coffee brewing process and divulged tips on the craft at Carrboro’s Open Eye Cafe.

In addition to showing videos of his experience in the World Barista Championship last year in Austria, Rodas answered questions on brewing methods and growing practices, revealing every step of the production process from ground to cup.

world champion JUDGES

Sensory judges: Evaluate taste as well as presentation and service skills
Technical judges: Evaluate technique, cleanliness and efficiency
Head judge: Ensure competitors and judges follow the rules

Rodas said he believes it is important to share his skill and passion for coffee, which is why he decided to pursue a career in coffee after only four years as a barista.

“I can really make a difference in people’s lives,” Rodas said. “I get to travel and change people’s days.”

He also noted the sense of community among the baristas at the elite level.

“I don’t try to be selfish,” he said. “You try to share what you do and be happy about it. I have fun.”

Scott Conary, president of Carrboro Coffee Roasters, credits Rodas’ visit to their long-standing relationship — both in and outside of the coffee business.

Conary has been a judge at the World Barista Championship in the past.

“It’s nice to see what’s attainable, to highlight someone at the top of their game,” Conary said. “He’s always looking for innovation, what else is out there, what else is possible.”

Open Eye barista Miles Murray agreed that Rodas’ appearance adds a lot to the coffee community.

“(The event) is a good opportunity to get a foot in the door in terms of this type of knowledge,” Murray said. “He really increases the level that people can appreciate coffee.”

Kevin Nealon, who attended the event Saturday, said he enjoyed getting to see the full process of producing coffee.

“He focuses on every aspect of the quality, from picking to extracting the coffee,” he said. “It’s refreshing to have someone who is so invested in all steps of the process, who can interact with the farmers.”

Rodas said he hopes to continue expanding his business and competing in barista competitions all over the world.

He said coffee chains like Starbucks help expand interest in coffee, but lack the refined expertise that independent coffee producers bring to their own work.

“That is a company that has helped develop coffee culture,” he said. “It’s sort of a yin-yang thing. For something to be good, something else has to be bad.”

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