Milk Wizard Auckland Winner 2018 – Daniel Chen

The aim of the Milk Wizard event was to get as many people up having a go as possible.  Auckland certainly pulled out all the stops and thanks to the member company, eighthirty and allied member Meadow Fresh, the atmosphere was electric with art being thrown down from two machines simultaneously.  However, from 34 competitors, there could only be one winner.
Introducing Daniel Chen
What is your first coffee memory?
Was a long time ago but I remember I could not finish the latte in that bowl.
How did you get started in coffee?
I was in accounts and I couldn’t find a coffee that I enjoyed around my work, so I decided to make my own coffee.  Eventually, the interest grew and I found myself in hospo.
Talk us through a typical day at work.
I’m always trying to peak the flavour and practice the same pattern over and over again.
What are your interests outside coffee?
My interest has always been basketball and sideway sports (snowboarding especially) but as the knees age, I was forced to give both up to reduce the chance of injury that could stop me from making coffee.
Is there anyone you wish to thank or recognise?
My partner Rita who spends hours alone looking after our little Freya while I hang out at the cafe practising after close.
I really would like to thank George Win (lecture cafe culture at MIT) who showed me the door to the world of coffee.
Thanks to my boss and customers at Baguette & Co for all the coffees bought so I could practice in those takeaway cups over the last year.
Big thanks to Regular Cafe and Bistro for letting me use their premises after hours to practice.
Shout out to Issac Yu, Josh Harvey and Robert Kim who spend endless hours to train me.
Finally the boys! David Chien, Oliver Ou and Jacky Huang, for all the good/ bad/dumb ideas on how to make a better cup of coffee and latte art.
What is the most unusual vessel you have poured latte art into?
That would have to be in an avocado.
Have you entered any other latte art competitions before?
Milk Wizard 2017 hosted by the Guild at Black and Gold.
Taupo latte art hosted by L’affare at Spoon and Paddle.
What’s your secret to pouring great latte art?
Consistent milk and cup rotation.
Any tips for someone starting out?
Stick it out, nothing is easy and never give up.  It is better to never stop.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still pumping coffee behind the machine, but focusing more on flavours. As latte art is only visual and flavour is the key. Period.
Is there anyone in coffee who particularly inspires you? Why?
Chris Lin from Milkgliders in Taiwan. I used to watch his Instagram video post over and over trying to improve myself. Eventually, I travelled to his cafe and had a latte art class from him.