Dove Chen – Preparing for Seoul.

Photo Credit: Dianne Wang
What did you do differently this year that you think made you win the competition?
This year I was lucky to have engaged with the producer of my competition coffee, Jose Gallardo of Finca Nuguo. My routine was all about how technology is changing the barista’s role. In the past, I received a piece of paper from the coffee roaster and that was where I got the information about the coffee. This time, I had the opportunity to directly speak to the coffee producer and got to know the coffee really well. I learned a lot about processing and natural coffees, how Jose controlled and experimented around the many variables during the process. Roasting the coffee was also a bit challenging as we had to do several trial roasts without much coffee to work with. In the end, I had full confidence in the coffee and the roast, and was very pleased when we tried it for the first time on competition day!
Three months to go before the World Barista Championship (WBC). What preparations are you doing now?
Jose is preparing to send me 2 or 3 experimental coffee lots which I’m very excited about. My routine will change slightly depending on the coffee, but my theme will still be around how technology is breaking borders and that it is changing or expanding the barista’s role in amazing ways.
What are you most excited about leading up to WBC?
I have our third baby arriving end of September, I’m definitely very excited about that! I’m also looking forward to meeting the baristas in Seoul and I have the chance to speak to them and see what they are up to. I’ve not been to a World Coffee Event so this opportunity to connect with other baristas and coffee professionals will be amazing!
As a coffee professional, what has competing done to you personally and professionally?
Competing is not easy, it’s stressful and took me out of my comfort zone. I’ve lost a lot of time with family and friends but in saying that, my family has always supported me and I couldn’t have done it without them. Preparing to get on the stage has also forced me to learn many different things in such a short amount of time. I have kept pushing myself to research, experiment, and discover how things work. All competitors do it! Through competition, we are able to find solutions to issues or troubles we experience every day. We dedicate this time to test ideas and to see where we can improve.
Any advice to those thinking of competing next year?
Start preparing now, 6 months until the next NZ Barista Championship! Showcase your passion and commitment to great coffee. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn during the preparations. You will meet a lot of people and make friends who inspire you. Try it, you’ll never know what you’ll get out of it until you do it yourself.
Dove would like to add that he “would like to thank my team, David Huang and Sam Low as my coaches, Scott Pepler as my mentor and coffee roaster. I did well because of them!”
Many thanks to Dove for sharing his competition story. We wish him all the best for the World Barista Championship in Seoul!