Andy is a barista champion who also teaches during our Workshops! He won the 2015 ASCA NSW Barista and came 2nd at the 2016 ASCA NSW Latte Art. Nice, funny and charismatic here is his interview:
- What does it mean to be a barista champion?
“The World Barista Championship (WBC) is a worldwide barista competition, with the winners of each national barista championship. The meaning of Barista champion to me, firstly, it is more like an ambassador, a bridge for connection between coffee growers to consumers. For example, customers don’t have a clear idea of where coffee comes from, how the coffee tree looks like and coffee being processed? In the other way, some farmers and producers they either don’t know what customers are looking for. I would say, a lot of them have not had a chance to come to Australia and understand the coffee culture here. the importance of barista champion is representing the coffee, to share the story behind the cup.”
- You are a barista champion; when did you start to learn how to be a barista? And why?
“I was born in China, Shanghai. Before I became a barista, I was working in the kitchen. Well, I think I am a very creative person and also very passionate about cooking as well. In 2007, I started my first barista job. Why I like being a barista was I can talk to my customers and understand what they are looking for. as we know the third wave of coffee, speciality coffee starts 2000, but until 2007 a lot of people still didn’t know what a natural coffee is, or washed coffee. I bought a little home roaster and was doing some experimenting of roasting/blending coffee from the different origins. The next day, I gave to my customers to try. I was sorry, sometimes, they didn’t have a good one, but was really fun. I had a lot of good feedback from customers as well.”
- Could you tell us more about you and your career path?
“Being a barista is not a button pusher. You will see this weird situation sometimes, that the person makes your coffee, but he/she never drink coffee. It is like a chef who makes your food but never tastes the sauce. In 2011, after I achieved National Latte Art champion in Australia, I started a coffee workshop in Burwood, Sydney. I realized barista training is not just making a cup of pretty coffee, the more important is the principle & concept. For example, if you practice hard in a wrong way, you will find it is in the dead end and hard to dig yourself out. because this reason, I wanted to help more people of finding the truth in coffee. The following year I was hired from a few different coffee wholesale companies for training their staff and baristas. 2015 I came first in ASCA NSW Barista championship, then I took 2 years off and did some travelling. It was really amazing that you understand the coffee culture in other countries. When I was in overseas, I developed some training materials for some big companies, it was a fantastic training experience for me. We trained about more than 2000 students in 6-months time.”
- Now you that you teach all kinds of levels of barista Workshops, is it something you were planning to do?
“Now, in roastville, we have 4 levels of different workshops for beginners and barista. I think in future, we will do more on coaching baristas in competition and roasting class. To me, it is also about learning. Every year, we will have something new, because the industry is moving due to some new tech knowledge and concept. Learning makes you comfortable and confident.”
- What do you like about it?
“Training people help yourself too. a lot of time, when students ask you some questions, I might not answer them. So, I would take these questions to find answer for them. This is like a brainstorm. everyone thinks differently, sees a different angle. I have to say there are a lot good questions, please come to ask me.”
- What is your favorite coffee?
“My favorite coffee is making coffee with a good attitude. Currently, I work for a green bean trading company, the most time my job is tasting and evaluate the quality of the coffee from all over the world. I think I have tasted more than a 1000 different type of coffee, and I understood each coffee has its own value. I appreciated coffee growers produce delicious coffee for us, so we can have coffee to drink.”
A big thank you to Andy for his time!