Portia takes the Wellington Latte Art Jam

The NZBG Latte Art Jam on 26 July in Wellington was a rip roaring success with scores of spectators, more than a dozen competitors and a great feeling at the Peoples Coffee roastery!
The event commenced with a light hearted throwdown between reigning NZ Barista Champion Aymon McQuade, Guild committee member Massimo and Guild Chair Nick Clark.
The final was an all lady affair with Portia from Flight Coffee up against Cecilia who has now moved on from full time barista work, but obviously still has it in her blood!

But the evening was Portia’s, find out a little more about here right here:
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
For me, it all started with that sneaky sprinkle of coffee in my milo; unsure of whether I was too young to be starting up on the caffeine. Naturally, I grew to be a coffee person as my family did.
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
A part time job arose at the coffee roastery around the corner from my house. I finished school, went to the roastery and came home to the smell of dad roasting his own green beans in the garage. After dinner, my sister and I had the job of rocking the espresso machine and spinning out café quality flat whites.
What led you to becoming a barista?
As I mentioned in my last answer, we taught ourselves to make coffee on the home espresso machine. My next step up from being the after-school cleaner, was to become the weekend barista. I pumped out hundreds of coffees at the Farmers’ Market alongside my younger sister.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of where I work now, at Memphis Belle Coffee House, is when I am mid-rush (knowing that a few months ago, I would have been left behind in the dust at this speed) and I see a positive reaction from a customer. Whether they comment on how good the coffee is, or I see a camera being whisked out to snap a picture of the art on top of their coffee. Now that I’m becoming used to it, I love the rush.
Talk us through a typical work day
Work usually starts with deafeningly loud music and ends with deafeningly loud music. And there’ll be a few practical jokes in there too, somewhere. I’m the female at work, amongst a whole lot of boys who roll around on the floor sometimes. But that’s okay, because I can laugh at them whilst polishing the spoons as only a female can. Memphis Belle is a place that is always busy, but is never too busy for fooling around with workmates who double as the mates you hang out with after work.
What are your roles outside of making coffee?
Probably just being the young, optimistic skirt in the team. I also write up the cabinet because I don’t have boy writing. To be honest, my biggest focus is learning from the guys that I work with. Being young and new to it all, I’m still learning what the coffee industry has to offer. Outside of making coffee, my role is to be an apprentice.
What is your favourite brew method and/or coffee origin and why?
I’m still an espresso lady, purely because I’m still learning. But I’m lucky to have specialty single origin coffees and knowledgeable dudes (such as Steve or Bink) to recommend a brew for me to try. Steve will even make me one. ☺
Tulip or rosetta?
Gotta love the control of a massive, symmetrical tulip; just as Bink Bowler taught me. Too bad he gets the shakes.
What would be your dream ‘coffee experience’?
Being a top latte artist in New Zealand would be a great experience! I love making coffee and I look forward to the possibility of entering the New Zealand Barista Championship and learning more about what I’ve been interested in for so long. A bonus would be traveling the world with coffee, and maybe in the future, visiting coffee countries and witnessing the entire process from seed to cup.
Do you have a ‘coffee crush’ (person you most respect in the business)?
Before I started at Memphis Belle Coffee House, the Flight Coffee boys were my biggest coffee crush. Young, honest, passionate and really good at what they do. I have huge respect for the growth and quality of their coffee and also the roles they play out so well. Whether they’re overseas in coffee countries, learning and feeding information back to us in Wellington, roasting coffee all day long after getting up at unspeakable hours or piloting the cafés that reach customer demands. I respect Flight Coffee the most, because they are responsible for making me see the potential I could have in coffee.
Here’s Portia’s route to triumph: