I have the distinct pleasure of being able to interview a good friend of mine. He has has been with Blueprint since our build-out, and represented our company at Barista Camp in Wisconsin and at a number of latte art competitions, including a big win at our pre-CoffeeFest throwdown.
Mazi Razani: Radames, tell us a bit about yourself. Are you from St. Louis originally?
Radames Roldan: No. I’m actually from Chicago, but I’ve been living in St. Louis for two years now. I moved here on a whim seeking to kind of shake things up for myself and I happened find an amazing niche here. So, here I am.
MR: What other jobs did you have before Blueprint, in Chicago and here in St. Louis?
RR: Before I began working in coffee, I managed and did some buying for a clothing boutique in Chicago […] When I moved to St. Louis, I began working for Kaldi’s Coffee, which is completely different [than clothing] on the surface, but being driven by an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship my transition into the coffee industry seems like a natural one.
MR: What was it like in September when the shop opened and the workforce consisted of five owners and yourself? That must have been nerve-racking to feel like you’re surrounded by bosses everywhere you turn.
RR: Not at all. Having awesome friendships with some of the partners beforehand and getting to know everyone during build out just made me feel like I was in a pretty great position. Being surrounded by so much knowledge just pushed and continues to push me to show up open and focused every day.
MR: We had a great showing at our latte-art throwdown over CoffeeFest weekend, in which you, of course, took home the first prize. Tell us a bit about the competition and what it was like being challenged by, and performing for coffee professionals from around the country. How did you stay calm for such an audience?
RR: Man, that was a fun time. I didn’t expect to win or anything, but I just kept progressing through every round. I was just happy to see how many people from all over showed up at our shop to hang out. All the red wine I drank was crucial in my win.
MR: You recently had a chance to travel to Barista Camp with one of our owners, Nora Brady. Was Camp what you expected? Did you come home with any cool stuff?
RR: I was initially intimidated that I’d be surrounded by major coffee geekery when I went to camp. Surprisingly, I don’t think anybody talked more about coffee culture than I did. So it was a kind of affirmation that I’m doing something I’m pretty passionate about. Plus, I won the Barista 5k Run and received a sexy Baratza grinder, so that was cool!
MR: Did you learn anything about Nora that you didn’t know before other than her on-camera abilities?
RR: Nora is the homie! I learned she’s sort of a coffee celeb now after such an amazing showing in the U.S. Barista Comp. I think I even began introducing myself to other campers as “I came here with Nora Brady.” But really, she’s so low-key about all of it and I love that.
MR: I understand you have a couple hobbies you are fairly passionate about outside of Blueprint. Tell us a bit about those.
RR: I recently began DJing cause I’m a 20-something and that’s what we do. I’ve played a few live shows and it’s a lot of fun. I like my taste in music so I have that going for me. I’m also getting more serious about cycling these days. I’ve spent the past couple of months kind of training to race in my first triathlon at the end of the summer. I just love being on my bike out in the world. Blueprint is my favorite hobby though.
MR: Kanye or The Beatles?
RR: KANYE. NEXT QUESTION.
MR: Thank you very much for taking some time to chat.
RR: Is this a paid interview?
**Photo by Andy Koh