– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
My name is Carlos J. Morales and I am the Director of Coffee & Operations at Third Rail Coffee.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
I have been working in the industry for about 6+ years now. My first job in the industry was serving coffee as a barista at Stumptown, which eventually created an opportunity to start working at Third Rail Coffee; a cafe that I have been regular at for about 9 years. Since working at TRC, I have competed and judged SCA sanctioned Brewers Cup events.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
No one has ever asked me this before… I guess tasting coffees?! I started working in the food and beverage industry as a pastry chef, so culinary school is where my palate was first developed. When I left the industry to work in coffee, Stumptown really helped develop my coffee palate and since then it has been a wild and fun journey tasting coffees and learning each and every day.
– What was your first coffee experience?
The first coffee experience I ever had was during childhood at my abuela’s house, coming from a Puerto Rican family, coffee is like gold. I remember fond memories sitting with family over coffee (mostly milk and sugar back then) and telling stories.
– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
In regards to specialty coffee, Third Rail Coffee’s opening staff cultivated my interest in the industry and for that I am forever grateful. I started drinking specialty coffee in 2009/2010 and used to frequent Third Rail Coffee and Sweetleaf’s original location in Long Island City, Queens. On that note, I have to give credit to Rich from Sweetleaf as well, I fondly remember a moment that he created when I was young and eager to learn about coffee. These shops helped me realize I wanted to work in the coffee industry.
– What was your best coffee experience?
It has to be that moment at Sweetleaf and drinking espresso that Rich made me, I think it was 2011? Not knowing who he was at the time, we had a fun conversation about coffee, Mets, and Queens things. For those that know me, know how much these things mean to me.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
I do make coffee at home. I own a few brew methods, but I typically find myself toggling between the beehouse and Chemex.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, Vietnamese style,…?
Definitely black coffee, but every now and then I like to add a dash of milk and one sugar. You have to remember your beginnings, right?
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
I am frequent coffee drinker.
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
I always loved coffee, but never thought I would work in the industry. I was a culinary school graduate who worked in pastry and drank specialty coffee to get through long kitchen shifts, but never did I think I would make the switch. I am happy I did.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
In recent years, running.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
The one place that really changed my life was Tokyo, Japan. Everything about the city, the cadence, the spirit, the coffee culture was so special. While there are plenty of shops I did not get to go to, Onibus Coffee, About Life Coffee Brewers,and Paddlers reminded me why I love coffee culture so much.
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
Sprudge has been with me every step of the way. It gave insight to the industry way before I started working in it. I am very grateful for this website.
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Explore and enjoy!