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Barista Stories: Rui Pedro Bastos Pedrosa of SO Coffee Roasters, Porto

We encountered Rui Pedro Bastos Pedrosa for the first time when we were writing about the World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Rui radiated with passion on stage and we could remember his performance long after the event. He scored an amazing 15th place during that World Championship.

Rui is now part of SO Coffee Roasters based in Porto where he shares his passion not only with the local community but also while attending international festivals. Still with that amazing spark in the eye from the World Stage, immaculate passion and drive. It’s always such a pleasure to feature a hero who found his element and keeps inspiring others to dive into specialty coffee!

Barista Stories are sponsored by PUQpress. Photo by World Coffee Championships.

Rui, what is your first memory of coffee? 

I think like for many of us my first memory is from when I was around 6 years old. My grandmother used to make coffee in a frenchpress every morning and she even had a blade grinder! I remember very vividly the smell and the ritual itself.

Funny that in the early days, I didn’t have any interest in coffee. Never really enjoyed it, especially espresso. In Portugal, there is a strong culture of espresso but it has to be bitter and burnt. I don’t think that I had an incredible palate from a young age but I always enjoyed more sweet/acidic things. Only when I started working in specialty did I start to enjoy drinking coffee. 

​​​​​What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?

I studied hospitality and after that, I quickly started working as a waiter in a 5-star hotel in Porto. I learnt the basics of hospitality, a good service and I always enjoyed being behind the bar or just talking to people. At some point, I got the opportunity to work at the Michelin star restaurant of that hotel and I think that it was there that my love for quality service and products was born. The look on the faces of our guests when you presented the extremely complex courses or when they tasted them was pure joy for me. I loved that part so much but at the same time, I hated having to work at night and felt like if I kept that path my social life would not exist. 

I started looking for options and the idea of having a cafe that served quality coffee with a nice ambience and great service started to grow more and more on me. This was back in 2017 and there was nothing in Porto that even sounded like specialty, or at least I didn’t know back then. 

I found my first job in specialty a year later in Porto and I fell in love quickly. Then I decided to move to Berlin and was lucky enough to end up working at Five Elephant with 0 experience. It was there that I learned everything I knew about being a barista and coffee professional. It was from there that I took the values that I still follow today. 

Tell us a bit about the place you work at. What is your role there?

I’m working in SO Coffee Roasters which is a small specialty coffee roastery. We have 2 cafes and 3 espresso bars (2 in Porto and 1 in Lisbon). We are focused on having distinct coffees so sourcing ends up being one of the most important things we do. At the cafes, the guest experience is the most important thing for us. We always try to show and explain why we end up doing things so differently from the commercial shops. 

It’s a bit hard to define roles and positions in SO. We are a small team and we do pretty much anything and everything ending up involved in all things coffee, from sourcing, quality control, and barista training while always being behind the bar. 

What is your favourite part of the day at work, and why?

Cupping for sure! Something that I’m really passionate about is the sensory aspect of coffee. If it’s quality control or cupping new samples I’m always super excited to do it. 

How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?

I’m blessed to be surrounded by coffee professionals and enthusiasts who share the same passion for knowledge and hunt for new experiences. We managed to build a nice and supportive community with the same goals in mind. 

Sustainability and quality are aspects of coffee that don’t have an end, there is always more that we can do and as long as we make these our main goals/values there will always be something that will motivate and inspire us to do better.

If there would be one piece of knowledge about coffee you’d like everyone to know, what would that be?

This is for the Portuguese market but please, sour and bitter are not the same thing haha

You have some nice achievements in championships. Can you tell us more about them? What are the next championships you’d like to compete in?

Competing was never in my plans but in 2022 I was challenged to compete in the Portuguese Nationals and never thought that I could win it. But I knew it would be a very good way for me to challenge myself. The amount of knowledge that we can get just by competing is incredible. 

If anyone is thinking about competing I suggest that you make that a priority for the upcoming months because it will payout regardless of the outcome.

How did it feel to compete on the World Stage?

It was one of the best and most stressful experiences in my life. To be in the same place and sharing the stage with coffee professionals that I considered to be role models was incredible. But being on stage was the easy part. I had to an immense amount of time and effort into my routine. That made me confident when I was presenting to the judges.

The months, weeks, days and minutes before starting were the ones that were super stressful but in retrospect were the ones that made me and the team grow a lot as coffee professionals. To be called off for the semi-finals was the cherry on the cake.  

What is in your opinion the most important thing to have in mind when you start to compete in coffee championships?

Make it a priority, regardless of winning or not. Any coffee competition requires a lot of commitment and it’s from that commitment that all the good things will come.

What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?

I’m very excited about what the future has for me and SO. I found here the home that I was looking for since I left Berlin and I feel that with the growing coffee scene in Portugal, a lot of exciting projects will come. 

Quick Fire Questions for Rui Pedro Bastos Pedrosa:

Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?

Sure thing.

Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?


Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?

Sweet acidity ahah.

Milky or Black?


Slurp or spit?


Espresso of filter coffee?

Filter coffee.

Cake or Pastry with your coffee?


Favourite piece of barista equipment? 

The rags ahahah