The best part of waking up in Curaçao might just be Café Barista in your cup. Its creator, Cedric Sprock (42), sources green coffee beans from various regions in Colombia (Tolima, Nariño, Boyacá, etc). Once they arrive in Curaçao, he roasts them in a coffee roaster. Equal parts Art and Science, Café Barista’s unique blend results in a chocolate-caramel undertone (a nod to the Latinos), a slightly acidic after-taste (a nod to the Europeans), and a lighter consistency (careful not to overwhelm the Americans.) “As a yu di Kòrsou, I’ve experienced all these flavors in my coffee, so I’m highly attuned to nuances. It’s difficult to please everyone… but that’s exactly what we try to do at Café Barista.”
Don’t be fooled by the name, “Café Barista” isn’t just a coffee shop, it’s a full-fledged coffee factory. It employs 88 employees, of which 15 are baristas certified by the Specialty Coffee Association Europe (SCAE), who service the four coffee shop locations (Mahaai, Avila Hotel, Hato Airport) and two Deli France locations. Additionally Café Barista distributes its roasted coffee blend to 300+ companies, hotels and restaurants. The company also imports high quality coffee machines from Italy (Bianchi, La Marzocco, Astoria) and resells or leases them.
A firm believer in “knowledge is our main differentiator”, Cedric turned himself into a coffee expert thanks to his Bogotá-based Coffee Mentor Irma Milena Mayorca Morales (Especialistas del Café)… and he can go on and on about coffee: beans, pricing, customs, roasting etc. If you want to learn more, just ask him over a cup of Café Barista!
Lets take a moment to rewind. 10 years ago the gourmet coffee market was pretty much non-existent: 70% of Curaçao’s coffee drinkers would drink instant coffee (with lots of sugar to cover up the taste!)… and Cedric was a successful middle manager at Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company. He had just completed his MBA at Curises and was living a very comfortable life. So what compelled him to sell his car, boat, motorcycle, to start a gourmet coffee business?
“I loved working at Schlumberger and learned so much about running a global business. But I also value my independence… ‘working for the man’ had taken a toll on me (…) I lost my parents (mother in 1990, father in 1991) so I was forced to become independent at a young age. The pain and suffering of losing them made me realize that I would feel most fulfilled if I manage to make people happy in my career… Good products and service result in happy people.”
Moreover, Cedric was raised by entrepreneurs. Cedric’s mother, Astrid Sprock-Maduro, was one of the first to start a car rental in Curaçao in the 1970s and his uncle, Pempi, who used to run popular restaurant Tasca Don Francisco, taught him the customer service ropes. “Maduros are known to be entrepreneurs, so it’s in my DNA.”
But Cedric didn’t just start a coffee business on a whim… He did extensive local and global market research and paid careful attention to quality (of coffee beans and machines). He took great care to build a business he could be proud of. A business he genuinely loves. In fact, his wife, Nanda, a former Schlumberger colleague, is his co-founder and business partner. (“The best thing that ever happened to me is being able to work with my wife.”), Many of Café Barista’s employees are folks Cedric enjoyed working with at Schlumberger, and the coffee business, much like the oil business, provides plenty of opportunities and challenges that keep him well-caffeinated and alert.