Joaquín´s family imports green coffee and he has been exposed to it since he was a child.
How coffee is cupped caught his attention. He loves experimenting and you will usually find him with a spoon in his hand discovering new flavors. “It’s hard at the beginning, but little by little you break the shyness and start saying whatever comes to your mind”. In 2011, when he was visiting Finca Las Nubes in Nicaragua, he met Javi who became his business partner. Together, they won the Spanish barista championship that same year and placed fourth in the World championship. “I had no experience at that time. I really don’t know how I did so well. I believe it was my intuition”. We spoke with him in Castelldefels, where every week he roasts coffee for places such as Satan´s Coffee Corner or Caravelle.
Please share your insight with us on the Right Side Coffee Roasters. What’s the story behind the name?
The left part of the brain is used for order and analysis. The right side, however, is for passion and creativity. I’ve always identified myself with the Right Side. Some balance between the two sides is absolutely needed, but we chose this name because we are focused on, and want to promote the creativity of our coffees.
What do you look for most when you roast a coffee?
The most important thing for me is that it’s tasty. Many times, the tastier a coffee is, the more difficult it is for the barista extract it. But we always strive to find the coffee’s maximum expression.
You’ve travelled to where the green coffee grows to purchase it. What kind of relationships do you try to establish with your suppliers?
Coffee is “cooked” three times: in origin, in the roasting machine and in the coffee shop. We seek long-term relationships with our suppliers. We pay them a fair and stable price that allows us to get quality coffee. It is very important to be aware that we wouldn´t be able to do much without them. That’s something roasters sometimes forget. Having a positive, strong and respectful relationship with the supplier is very important to us.
Your bags are silkscreen printed. Where did that idea come from?
My roommate Mariano started his silkscreen-printing project when I had just started to roast coffee in a 1-kilo machine. It was then that I had the idea of having our bags printed that way. I saw it used for stamps on bags and I loved the idea of incorporating this look for my business. It´s the feel of the paint and having some impurities that made it seem more authentic to me.
What’s the coffee culture in Spain like? Has it changed since Right Side appeared on the scene?
It has dramatically changed thanks to the introduction of real professional baristas: people that are interested in what’s happening and in what they are doing. In Spain, many people think that coffee is homogeneous and that it’s just a bitter drink. But coffee is everything but bitter. You can find many flavors in coffee. This week I was doing some tests and I found green bean and watermelon notes. You can pair coffee with anything since it has many registered flavors. It is said coffee has twice the amount of flavors in their register than wine does.
If you could tell the average coffee drinker one thing, what would it be?
I would simply tell them to try new things. Now that these coffee shops are starting to be “trendy”, it is very easy to go and learn about them and try their different flavors. People should discover new things. When we are forced to do something we are reluctant, but we have to remember that it’s ok to find things along the way that surprise us.
What has been the oddest flavor you’ve found in coffee?
Believe it or not, I found hints of anchovy in a coffee once!! It was at the world championship in Bogota in 2011. However, flavors are very subjective. Flavors depend completely on past experiences of those tasting it. I normally cup with Timur who is Mare Terra’s cupper. He is Russian and has completely different flavors registered. Sometimes he tells me that a coffee tastes like white currant. Coffee will never taste like white currant to me because I’ve never tried it before. Flavors are very subjective.
What is Barcelona’s coffee community like?
We’re all young people that have started more or less at the same time. It’s just the beginning now and we are all very busy with not a lot of time to meet. But we are all friendly and get along. I’ve collaborated personally with many of them such as Nino, Jordi and even El Magnífico. And of course, with Marcos from Satan’s Coffee who was the pioneer of this type of coffee shop.
You have a special relationship with Marcos. How did you guys first meet?
Someone told me about him when we just started in the business. After roasting our first bags of green coffee, Javi and I didn’t know what to do with them. Since we didn´t have any clients at that time, we decided to leave some samples at Federal Café and at Satan’s. We started to do cuppings and it was natural. It’s very easy to get along with Marcos. We helped each other a lot. I wouldn’t understand Right Side without Satan’s or Satan’s without Right Side. It’s like having a client that is part of your family.
What do you like most about roasting coffee?
I love to roast coffee and then cup it. I love what I feel when I’m roasting coffee. But you don’t know what you’ve exactly done until the next day when you cup it. They complement each other.
What have you learned from this craft?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that you never stop learning. You cannot ever think that you know everything. We should never stop being curious. We need to lose the fear of failing. Failing is actually a very important part of the learning process. It´s ok to fail!
What are some advantages and downsides of being located where you are?
In Castelldefels you are not as connected as you are in Barcelona, but it is a peaceful place to live and it allows me to be more creative. When I roast I need to concentrate very deeply and cannot do anything else. I need that concentration to have control of what I am doing. Besides, I am a man and we cannot do more than one thing at a time (Laughs).
“We try to bring back the values from past generations and adapt them to the technology that we have today.”
We heard you recently opened a coffee shop in San Sebastian. How did your partnership with The Loaf come about?
Alberto from Ale&Hop introduced us to Nacho who is part of La Salsera. They promote different initiatives and The Loaf was one of them. They had a very attractive project in San Sebastian and we had always wanted to open a coffee shop in that city since it’s Javi’s hometown. We didn’t need to think it twice when the opportunity presented itself.
What do The Loaf and Right Side Coffee have in common?
The Loaf conveys the same message that we are saying but in a different language: in their case it is bread. We try to bring back the values from past generations and adapt them to the technology that we have today. We are our grandparents generation but with better technology. I think society has advanced so fast that they lost sight of their values. They thought money was the most important thing and unfortunately, that is a short-term strategy. It has been proven that it doesn’t always work. Values are very important and need to be included.
Any plans for the near future?
In the next few months we will establish ourselves in a new space. We are excited since we’ll be able to welcome people. These past two years have allowed us to grow organically. For us the most important thing is to respect the coffee and maintain the quality. Now we will be able to do that even better than before.
Could you please recommend another artisan to us?
Naturally, I think that Jordi and Nino are doing a great job. In Madrid, I would recommend Barry Randall, an Englishman that is new to the business. When I started, I used to pay a lot of attention to international roasters such as Square Mile and Has Bean. However, now I am more inspired by Tim Wendelboe’s philosophy. I think they are doing an outstanding job with Nordic Approach coffees.
Their products can be also found at: