Costa Rica News – Maria Auxiliadora Bonilla was named Costa Rica’s 2013 National Barista Champion, after six rounds of specialty coffee beverages. It’s her second win in this competition. She competed against 5 other baristas who each made four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four original coffee drinks in only 15 minutes.
The specialty drink can include anything at all, as long as it contains at least an ounce of espresso. The espressos and cappuccinos serve as constants, that can be fairly judged against the norms in coffee culture and each other.
Her winning presentation included a cold-drip coffee in a glass flask with curling glass tubes. She used an infusion of slowly dripped herbs and aimed to highlight all of the flavors and scents of the coffee cycle. She works at her family’s coffee farm, and is familiar with the whole process, from the bean to the cup.
“When I serve it I feel extra motivation because of the identification I have with it. It’s like closing the whole circle of production [from producer to barista]. It’s something that gives me a lot of satisfaction,” she said. She spent months preparing for this competition.
She explained her view that we should be more demanding about coffee in Costa Rica, as we produce the best in the world, and often settle for the worst in what we pay for. Bitter coffee is not the only option, she said. Coffee from middle-height areas, like Tres Rios, is sweeter. Less than 1% of the amazing coffee produced in the country stays here. Most is exported to high paying customers in other countries. If you look carefully in Mas x Menos you can find some coffee bags that are marked “export quality.” When people pay $4 a cup at Starbucks, we should be willing to pay the extra mil colones for a quality bag in the supermarket.
Auxiliadora Bonilla will represent Costa Rica in the World Barista Championships in Italy, next June. Her family will carry on the tradition here, at a cafe that will reopen near the Walmart in Alajuela, on November 22.