Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Kenneth R. Olson: First off, we would love to hear about how coffee was prepared in your home when you were growing up, and your first experiences as a coffee drinker. Emilio Lopez Diaz: Both of my parents have always been heavy coffee drinkers. My father would drink at least seven cups of coffee a day and mom about five. Coffee at my parents' would be brewed on a regular filter brewer, and the coffee would come from one of the big co-ops in the country that roasts their own—not specialty at all, but the best at that time. At my grandmother's, though, they would always have esencia de café. It was pretty much a coffee extract that would be brewed on an Italian-type of stove brewer and then kept [in] the fridge for days; you would heat it up and either drink it straight or add milk to it. I truly began drinking coffee just after my father visited me in Portland, Ore., in December 2000, so my first coffees were in college. Definitely Stumptown's would stand out, more because of the experience at their shops where they were roasting than for the taste. So I would say that was my first experience with specialty coffee, and that it set the benchmark for making my coffee taste like those Ethiopians, Kenyans, or Colombians. It was a challenge though. I remember doing lots of comparative cuppings between my coffees and different ones from the local Portland roasters in my house in college, and that's why I started playing with differ- ent processing: naturals, honeys, fully washed, machine-washed. I wanted to make my coffee taste like those, and soon I discovered I could accomplish that. KRO: Why did you choose Portland for college? Was there some- thing that drew you there specifically, and what did you study? ELD: At that time I would say, "I want to go to college as far as possible from El Salvador." I really didn't know anything about Portland, except that they had an NBA team called the Portland Trail Blazers. I remember that I was really keen to be disconnected from Latin America, immerse myself into a new culture, and just have fun at college. In fact, when I got there, I found out pretty soon that I was one of only four Latin American students in the whole school. Although I did get to know the other three Latinos and be friends with them, I pretty much only hung out with Americans, got to meet their families, spent holidays in their hometowns, and they would come to El Salvador for our summer breaks. They truly became buddies and I still get to see most of them on my travels. I set off studying engineering management, and did that for three years, until the partying, and the physics and chemistry classes, were just too much to continue and graduate as an engi- neer. I was able to switch my major to interdisciplinary studies where I choose three minors: international business, environmental science, and philosophy. So in December of 2001, I graduated and moved back home, where I've been living since. Clockwise from top le : Emilio stands on the slopes of Finca El Manzano, one of the family coff ee farms that this sixth-generation producer oversees in El Salvador. Emilio with his father at Finca El Manzano. Emilio on his fi rst trip to Ethiopia, with Steven Lee (le ) and Phil Bea ie (center). 116 barista magazine

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