Nara Lee is the 2017 New Zealand Brewers Cup Champion and she recently represented New Zealand on stage at the World Brewers Cup Championship in Budapest. We asked Nara 10 questions about coffee and her experience competing in the World Brewers Cup Championship.
1. What is your most memorable coffee experience?
The first specialty coffee I drank was my most memorable coffee experience. It led me to pursue a career in the specialty coffee industry.
2. Had you ever participated in any coffee competitions before? Which competitions were they?
2016 New Zealand Brewers Cup, 2017 New Zealand Brewers Cup and 2017 World brewers cup.
3. Tell us your results if you want to.
2016 New Zealand Brewers Cup I placed 4th. 2017 New Zealand Brewers Cup I won and in the World competition I placed 23rd.
4. What did you learn from the competition process?
I learnt how to approach non-coffee people and talk about coffee in a way that they will understand and enjoy. Practising for competition teaches you so much about all aspects of coffee. It’s a constant learning experience.
5. How did you find your Championship city?
It was a lovely place to travel to with amazing architecture and the local food is delicious.
6. What was the best coffee you had in that city?
I was lucky enough to try fellow competitors coffees which were all awesome, but I couldn’t find enough time to get to any Budapest specialty coffee shops.
7. Is anything you would change about the Championship? What feedback would you give to the international organisers?
I am so thankful for the organisers. They work really hard to make the event happen and make sure people enjoy it.
8. What would you like to be doing in five years? Still in coffee?
I hope to be in the industry for another 50 years. I want to learn as much as I can.
9. Is there anyone in coffee who particularly inspires you? Why?
Pil Hoon Seu from Coffee Libre is my role model. I admire his passion, hard work and ability to achieve his goals.
10. What advice would you give next year’s National Champion?
Enjoy all aspects of your practice and try to learn from your mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes I felt stressed, but all steps made me a stronger person.
Nara competed using her custom made temperature controlled brewers that were designed to maintain a constant brewing temperature in the actual brewing device. This was to create greater consistency across all three brews.
Photo credit: Dianne Wang