ONE37pm: Let’s start with the beginning. You moved to the U.S. at age 18 where you worked in software. How did you make this career pivot?
Carlos: I moved to the U.S. at 17 to learn English, then went to college and got a software engineering degree. I worked as a software engineer for a few years and eventually felt like I needed a career shift.
I worked on a few more hands-on and standalone projects, like a software stock-keeping system for a fresh produce company on the docks of San Francisco. I also worked for a European olive oil exporting company, which gave me great visibility into the industry. During this time, I visited numerous farms and learned about the fraud in the global olive oil industry. I also found that with higher consumer awareness around food quality, there was a real demand for fresh olive oil that tasted better than what was on the market but also had a level of traceability that hadn’t existed in the industry before.
ONE37pm: Tell us a little more about your time at Applied Sensory.
Carlos: In 2018, I had just started learning about olive oil tasting and had decided to become an olive oil sommelier. I knew if I was going to craft something that would sit at the pinnacle of the olive oil category, I needed to become an expert. A few months later, I coincidentally met the leading olive oil sensory expert in the U.S., Susan Langstaff, a family friend and the lead taster at Applied Sensory.
Applied Sensory was started at the U.C. Davis Olive Center, the leading research center for olive oil in the United States. The panel is responsible for grading olive oils - Extra Virgin, Virgin, Olive oil, and Lampante - and verifying that oils graded as Extra Virgin truly are. Believe it or not, 70% of the oils sold in the U.S. don’t meet this standard despite their labeling. Applied Sensory is the only tasting panel in the U.S. that is accredited by the International Olive Council to legally grade olive oils in the United States.